Fatah leader named PA Interior Ministry spokesman

Interior Minister comes under fire for appointing Fatah defector instead of one of Hamas's own.

hamas parliament 298.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
hamas parliament 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Newly-installed Palestinian Authority Interior Minister Said Siam has appointed one of the leaders of Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, as ministry spokesman, sources in Gaza City told The Jerusalem Post over the weekend. The new spokesman, Khaled Abu Hilal, will replace Tawfik Abu Khoussa, a senior Fatah official and former head of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, who served in the post for nearly two years. Siam's decision to appoint a Fatah man surprised many Palestinians, who expected the Hamas minister to name a member of his own movement. It was his first decision since taking over the ministry on Thursday. The ministry is responsible for national security. Abu Hilal, 37, is better known by his nom de guerre - Abu Adham. He is one of the most prominent leaders of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades. In recent years he was one of the masked gunmen who represented the Brigades at press conferences in the Gaza Strip. A source said the new spokesman had defected from Fatah following sharp differences with top leaders of the party, who accused him of sympathizing with Hamas. The appointment drew angry reactions from some Hamas activists, who called on Siam to reconsider his decision. "Abu Hilal was one of the Fatah activists who used to criticize Hamas almost every day," said one Hamas representative. "We hope the minister will reconsider his decision because there are many Hamas people who are more worthy of the job." Abu Hilal told reporters on Saturday that he had been appointed for "professional, not political reasons." He said that in his new post he would speak on behalf the ministry and not for any political faction. Siam's decision to replace Abu Khoussa come as no surprise. The former spokesman had been accused by Hamas of inciting against the movement. Abu Khoussa had also angered Hamas and other armed groups in the Gaza Strip by strongly condemning rocket attacks against Israel.