Mohammad Shtayyeh offers to resign as Palestinian prime minister

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Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has tendered his resignation, in a long-anticipated move that could set the stage for a new technocratic government responsible for the reconstruction of Gaza.

Shtayyeh on Monday offered his resignation in a letter to President Mahmoud Abbas, who leads the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority. Abbas has yet to accept the resignation and appoint a new government. Until that is announced, Shtayyeh’s government will serve in a caretaker capacity.

The international community, led by the US, has called on Abbas to institute significant reforms in the PA as part of a move to “revitalise” the financially strapped and unpopular entity. Western and Arab states believe the Palestinians should form a technocratic administration to govern after Israel’s conflict with Hamas ends, as part of a broader postwar plan to push for a settlement to the protracted Israel-Palestinian crisis.

Any new government would also be responsible for overseeing Gaza’s reunification with the occupied West Bank. The two Palestinian territories split apart after Hamas’s violent takeover of the coastal enclave in 2007.

Addressing his cabinet on Monday, Shtayyeh said the “next stage and its challenges requires new governmental and political arrangements that take into account the new reality in the Gaza Strip . . . the urgent need for an inter-Palestinian [national] consensus . . . and the extension of the [PA’s] authority over the entire territory of Palestine”.

Elections in the occupied Palestinian Territories have not been held in nearly two decades. Abbas, 88, was elected to a four-year presidential term in 2005, with the last legislative elections held the subsequent year.

Abbas rules by presidential decree, presiding over pockets of limited self-government in the major cities of the West Bank covered by the remit of the PA, which was created in 1993 after the signing of the Oslo peace accords with Israel.

Abbas and the PA are, according to opinion polls, viewed extremely unfavourably by the Palestinian public due to tensions caused by increased Israeli settlement construction, allegations of widespread corruption and the lack of a viable path to statehood.

After the outbreak of war in Gaza against Hamas on October 7, Israel imposed severe restrictions on the entry of Palestinian labourers from the West Bank and withheld much of the monthly tax revenues it collects and transfers to the PA, worsening its economic and budgetary situation.

Israel launched its incursion into Gaza after armed Hamas militants mounted a cross-border raid on October 7, killing 1,200 people and taking about 250 hostages, according to Israeli authorities. The war has claimed the lives of more than 29,500 Palestinians, according to health authorities in the Hamas-ruled territory.

Abbas has largely resisted demands from the international community for the PA to institute significant reforms. The administration of US President Joe Biden has tied a broader regional push for a ceasefire in Gaza to a strengthened PA that could reassert control in the war-torn Palestinian enclave.

The Israeli government, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has consistently rejected any such PA role in Gaza, and last week pushed through a parliamentary motion also rejecting any “international diktats” regarding the formation of a Palestinian state.

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