newsIsrael at War

Abbas to announce next PA prime minister ‘within days’

P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas's decree nominating Mohammad Mustafa is expected "within days," according to Arab media reports.

Palestinian economist Mohammad Mustafa. Credit: Khaled6680 via Wikimedia Commons.
Palestinian economist Mohammad Mustafa. Credit: Khaled6680 via Wikimedia Commons.

Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas is reportedly poised to announce the appointment of Mohammad Mustafa as the head of a new P.A. government, replacing Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, who resigned late last month along with his entire administration.

Abbas’s decree nominating Mustafa to the position is expected “within days,” Arab media reported on Tuesday night. Once appointed, Mustafa will be given several weeks to form a Cabinet.

On Monday, Lebanon’s Al-Modon cited a Palestinian official as saying that Mustafa intends to appoint new faces to his government, with the exception of current P.A. Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva Ibrahim Khraishi, who will be asked to head Ramallah’s foreign ministry.

According to Al-ModonAbbas has refused to take a more ceremonial role and transfer some of his executive powers to the premier, as the United States and other international actors requested earlier this year.

Mustafa, 69, was born in the village of Kafr Sur, near Tulkarm in northern Samaria, and holds a Ph.D. degree in business administration and economics from George Washington University. A longtime member of the P.A.’s ruling Fatah faction, he sits on the executive committee of the Abbas-led Palestine Liberation Organization.

In 2015, Abbas appointed Mustafa as the chairman of the P.A.’s billion-dollar Palestine Investment Fund. A year earlier, as Ramallah’s minister of economy, he oversaw the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip in the wake of Israel’s military operation against the Hamas terrorist group.

Abbas has requested that Shayyeh continue to serve as interim premier until Mustafa announces the final composition of his cabinet.

Amid ongoing unity talks with Hamas, Shtayyeh submitted the resignation of his entire government on Feb. 26. The move came following international pressure to establish a Palestinian “government of technocrats” whose primary goal would be the rebuilding of Gaza.

Mustafa’s close relationship with Abbas has reportedly raised eyebrows in Washington. At the same time, a European diplomat told The Times of Israel on Wednesday that the international community is “swallowing this cosmetic reform because we don’t have anything to offer Abbas.”

The Biden administration wants the P.A. to assume control of Gaza after Israel’s war against Hamas ends, a move that Jerusalem vehemently rejects because of Ramallah’s overt support for terrorism.

Hamas is an “essential part of the Palestinian political mosaic,” Shtayyeh told world leaders gathered in Qatar on Dec. 10, adding that Israel’s goal of eliminating the terror group is “unacceptable” to Ramallah.

Negotiations for Hamas to back Mustafa’s government hit a snag on Sunday when the terror group announced that it would demand the inclusion of exiled Fatah rival Mohammed Dahlan in the coalition.

In response to the announcement, senior Abbas adviser Mahmoud al-Habash sharpened his tone towards the terror group, telling Al Arabiya television that “what Hamas needs to do is to hand over all responsibility for the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority.”

According to recent polls, 89% of Palestinians support establishing a government that includes or is led by Hamas. Only around 8.5% said they favor an authority controlled exclusively by Fatah.

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