Incoming PA prime minister lays out plan to end corruption, reconstruct Gaza

Mohammad Mustafa presents wide-ranging blueprint for revitalization, including moves to rebuild trust, unify West Bank and Gaza and hold elections at some point

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (L) with Prime Minister-designate Mohammad Mustafa in Ramallah on March 14, 2024. (Wafa)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (L) with Prime Minister-designate Mohammad Mustafa in Ramallah on March 14, 2024. (Wafa)

The incoming Palestinian Authority prime minister said on Tuesday that he would appoint a technocratic government and establish an independent trust fund to oversee Gaza’s reconstruction.

In a mission statement acquired by The Associated Press, Mohammad Mustafa laid out wide-ranging plans for the kind of revitalized Palestinian Authority called for by the United States as part of its postwar vision for resolving the conflict.

But the PA has no power in Gaza, and only limited authority in parts of the West Bank. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ruled out any return of the PA to Gaza and his government is staunchly opposed to Palestinian statehood.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas designated Mustafa as prime minister last week. The US-educated economist is an independent with no political base, but his close ties to Abbas have led to questions over whether his appointment will satisfy demands for power to be shifted away from the aging autocrat.

In the mission statement, Mustafa said he would appoint a “nonpartisan, technocratic government that can gain both the trust of our people and the support of the international community.” He promised wide-ranging reforms of PA institutions and a “zero tolerance” policy toward corruption, which critics have long charged is endemic among Palestinian leaders.

He said he would seek to reunify the West Bank and Gaza.

The plan envisions an “independent, competent and transparent agency for Gaza’s recovery and reconstruction and an internationally managed trust fund to raise, manage and disburse the required funds.”

This handout picture provided by the Palestinian Authority’s Press Office (PPO) shows PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh (L) presenting the resignation of his government to Mahmoud Abbas, in Ramallah on February 26, 2024. (Thaer GHANEM / PPO / AFP)

The vision statement made no mention of Hamas, a longtime rival of Abbas’s Fatah party. The terror group and other competing factions have charged that Mustafa’s appointment would deepen divisions, making Palestinian unity more distant.

On Friday, Fatah hit back, accusing Hamas of returning the “Israeli occupation” to Gaza through its “October 7 adventure,” calling this a worse catastrophe than that caused by the establishment of Israel in 1948.

Thousands of Hamas-led terrorists stormed from Gaza into southern Israel on October 7 in a brutal massacre that saw some 1,200 people killed and another 253 kidnapped, mostly civilians.

Israel’s ensuing war to topple Hamas has left much of the Strip in ruins, with tens of thousands dead, according to unverified Hamas figures, and widespread hunger, according to aid groups.

Hamas and Fatah have been bitterly opposed to each other since a bloody 2007 coup during which the terror group seized power and pushed most Fatah loyalists out. Attempts to reestablish ties have seen stuttering success over the ensuing years.

File: Palestinian supporters of the Hamas terror group wave green Islamic flags during a pre-election rally in the West Bank town of Ramallah, January 23, 2006. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

Mustafa said the PA aims to hold presidential and parliamentary elections, but he did not give a timetable and said it would depend on “realities on the ground” in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Elections have not been held since 2006, when Hamas came out on top. The 88-year-old Abbas, who is in overall control of the PA, has remained in power despite his own mandate expiring in 2009 and has refused to hold elections, citing Israeli restrictions.

Polls consistently find that a large majority of Palestinians want him to resign.

In 2021, Abbas blamed Israeli restrictions in East Jerusalem for his decision to indefinitely delay elections in which his secular Fatah party was expected to suffer major losses.

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