Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas approved the resignation of central bank chief George Abed on Sunday after a turbulent term in which the Palestinian economy came under unprecedented pressure.
"I resigned because I've been suffering for a long time from family problems related to my son," Abed said, adding that his son is critically ill in hospital in Washington but without specifying the medical condition.
"My son is in Washington and for a long time I've been far away from my wife and my son," he told a news conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Abbas has reassigned him to a post in the US capital, he added.
Abed, an independent technocrat, was appointed governor of the Palestine Monetary Authority, which acts as the central bank of the territories, in April 2005 after a long career at the International Monetary Fund.
But within his first year the Palestinian economy was plunged into an unprecedented crisis following the victory of the Islamist Hamas movement in February 2006 parliamentary elections.
The victory prompted Israel, the United States, and the European Union -- all of which consider Hamas a terrorist group -- to freeze all aid and payments to the Palestinian Authority.
Aid to Abbas's government in the West Bank resumed after Hamas ousted his loyalists in a week of fierce clashes in June, cleaving the Palestinian territories into two entities.
Gaza is now under a virtual blockade, with Israel limiting imports to vital humanitarian goods in retaliation for near-daily rocket attacks on nearby Israeli towns.
"The situation is good, but until now we're suffering from security problems related to the occupation, related to sending money to Gaza," Abed said, adding that all money transfers must now be approved by Israel's defence ministry.
The authority is currently awaiting Israeli approval to send 105 million shekels (26.5 million dollars, 18.25 million euros) to Gaza's banks, whose reserves have diminished to some 252 million shekels in recent months, he said.
Israel, which declared the Gaza Strip a "hostile entity" in September, has reduced fuel shipments to the territory and threatened further measures -- including hinting at a full-scale invasion -- if the rocket fire continues. ( AFP )