PA information minister: Abbas to replace local councils

The Palestinian Authority will appoint local councils in the West Bank to replace elected officials whose terms expire, PA Information Minister Riad Malki said Monday. The move was widely seen as another move against Hamas by moderate PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Hamas did well in local elections in 2004 and 2005, often defeating rivals from Abbas' Fatah movement. The rivalry intensified after Hamas seized control of Gaza by force in 2007. Abbas has been cracking down on Hamas in the West Bank since then. He has shut down Hamas institution, arrested hundreds of activists and dried up Hamas funding. The first local councils were elected in December 2004, meaning they would be replaced by appointees later this month.