Palestinian Prime Minister Shtayyeh resigns due to the new “reality” in Gaza

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Muhammad Shtayyeh is an economist who has been in his position for five years

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh resigned along with his government, which administers parts of the occupied West Bank.

Shtayyeh said there was a need for new “arrangements” that take into account “the emerging reality in the Gaza Strip.”

President Mahmoud Abbas accepted his decision, which may pave the way for the formation of a technocratic government.

Abbas is under pressure from the United States to reform the Palestinian Authority so that it can govern Gaza after the end of the war between Israel and Hamas.

Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented a vision for the Strip that did not mention any role for the Palestinian Authority.

The Israeli military launched a large-scale air and ground campaign in Gaza after Hamas militants killed about 1,200 people in southern Israel on October 7 and took 253 others hostage.

The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza says at least 29,782 people have been killed in the Strip since then, including 90 in the past 24 hours.

Shtayyeh, an economist who has been in office since 2019, announced the resignation of his government during a cabinet meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Monday morning.

He explained that the decision “comes in light of the political, security and economic developments related to the aggression against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, and the unprecedented escalation in the West Bank, including the city of Jerusalem.” According to the official Wafa Agency.

He added: “I see that the next stage and its challenges require new governmental and political arrangements that take into account the new reality in the Gaza Strip, the national unity talks, and the urgent need for an inter-Palestinian consensus on a broad national basis.” He added: “Participation, unity of ranks, and the extension of the Palestinian Authority's sovereignty over the entire land of Palestine.”

Mr. Abbas asked Mr. Shtayyeh and his government to remain in a caretaker position until a new government is formed.

His preferred candidate for prime minister is believed to be Muhammad Mustafa, a US-educated economist, former senior World Bank official and head of the Palestine Investment Fund.

He could be tasked with forming a new government of expert ministers not aligned with any factions, in the hope that Israel will be persuaded to allow them to rule Gaza after the war.

The Palestinian Authority, established in 1994 under the Oslo Accords, has limited governing powers in parts of the occupied West Bank that are not under full Israeli control and are dominated by Abbas's Fatah movement, a rival to Hamas.

It lost control of Gaza in 2007, when Hamas ousted forces loyal to Abbas a year after winning the last Palestinian elections, and is deeply unpopular among many Palestinians, both in the West Bank and Gaza.

In November, US President Joe Biden said that Gaza and the West Bank “must be reunited under a single governance structure, ultimately under a renewed Palestinian authority, while we all work to achieve a two-state solution.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said a reformed Palestinian Authority must “meet the aspirations of the Palestinian people and meet their needs,” including by fighting corruption, engaging civil society, and supporting media freedom.

Netanyahu's post-war plan for Gaza, which he presented to ministers on Thursday, does not rule out a role for the Palestinian Authority. But it also doesn't specifically mention the body either.

Instead, he talks about handing over responsibility for civil administration and public order to “local elements with administrative expertise,” who “will not be linked to, nor receive money from, states or entities that support terrorism.” It also envisions a completely “demilitarized” Gaza, with Israel remaining responsible for security for the foreseeable future.

A spokesman for Abbas said the plan was doomed to failure.

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