In the end, al-Tirawi was appointed as a security adviser and head of the Palestinian Academy in Jericho.

Brigadier Mohamed Zeeb Mansour, al-Tirawi's deputy, replaced him as acting head for the Palestinian general intelligence unit.

"No official explanation has so far been released on the reasons behind the issuance of the presidential decree," Walid al-Umari, Al Jazeera's bureau chief in Ramallah, in the West Bank, said.

Egyptian connection

Al-Umari said the move, which comes only days before a meeting between the factions to be held in Cairo, was probably linked to a proposed draft reconciliation plan submitted by Egypt to the Palestinian factions.

It is said that Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip after routing Fatah forces in June last year, has repeatedly requested that Abbas remove al-Tirawi for his strong opposition to its growing strength in the West Bank.

But The Jerusalem Post reported quoting a Fatah source that Abbas's decision was not linked to Hamas's demands that the men, who co-ordinated a crackdown on Hamas supporters in the West Bank, be replaced.

Past resignation

Al-Tirawi, 61, had resigned in 2005 after complaining to Abbas that too little was done by Palestinian security commanders to end lawlessness in the Palestinian territories.

Abbas rejected his resignation at that time.

The Palestinian security apparatus has undergone major reforms in recent months.

Hundreds of security officers, members of the old guard of Abbas's Fatah faction, have been retired and others moved to new jobs.