Israel-Hamas war live: Israel signals willingness to release prominent Palestinians

Israel-Hamas war live: Israel signals willingness to release prominent Palestinians

Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh of the Palestinian Authority, the body that administers part of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, resigned from his cabinet on Monday, according to the authority’s official news agency.

The move follows diplomatic efforts involving the United States and Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, to persuade the authority to restructure itself in a way that would allow it to take over the administration of Gaza after the end of the war.

But it was unclear whether Mr. Shtayyeh’s resignation would be enough to reorganize the authority or persuade Israel to let it govern Gaza. President Mahmoud Abbas, the authority’s top leader, will remain in office alongside his security chiefs. And after accepting Mr. Shtayyeh’s resignation, Mr. Abbas asked him to remain interim prime minister until a replacement was sought.

Israeli leaders have strongly implied that they will not allow the current leadership of the authority to rule Gaza. American and Arab leaders had hoped that new leadership could prompt Israel to cede administrative control of Gaza to the authority – a context Mr. Shtayyeh spoke of in his resignation statement.

“The next stage and its challenges require new governmental and political arrangements that take into account the emerging reality in the Gaza Strip,” Mr. Shtayyeh wrote, according to Wafa, the authority’s news agency. These challenges include the push for “the extension of the sovereignty of the Palestinian Authority over all Palestinian land,” he added.

With no functioning parliament in areas controlled by the authority, Mr. Abbas remains the key figure of power, whatever the fate of Mr. Shtayyeh. Mr. Abbas has long ruled by decree and exercises broad influence over the judicial system and the prosecution. Any prime minister works under the authority of Mr. Abbas and has little room to make his own decisions.

According to diplomats briefed on his thinking, Mr. Abbas’s preferred candidate for prime minister is Mohammad Mustafa, a longtime economic adviser considered a member of his inner circle.

But analysts predict it could be weeks before a successor is announced.

By keeping Mr. Shtayyeh in place as interim caretaker, Mr. Abbas is “essentially buying time,” said Ibrahim Dalalsha, director of the Horizon Center for Policy Studies and Media Outreach, a political analysis group based in Ramallah, in the West Bank.

That allows Mr. Abbas to signal to foreign powers that he has begun an overhaul, while in practice delaying any substantive changes and giving himself more time to persuade domestic allies and foreign donors of Mr. Mustafa, said Mr. Dalalsha.

“Many governments around the world – including Arab governments – have conditioned their financial support for the Palestinian Authority on the creation of a new responsible, effective and inclusive Palestinian government,” he said.

The creation of an interim government “does not in itself lead to concrete changes overnight, but it demonstrates a desire and seriousness, at least at the political level, to move in this direction,” he said. added Mr. Dalalsha.

The authority was created during the Oslo peace process in the 1990s and was seen by Palestinians and their supporters as a state government in waiting.

Instead, the peace process collapsed and the state never materialized. The authority has had only limited autonomy in about 40 percent of the West Bank. A quarter of a century later, polls show that Palestinians view him primarily as authoritarian and corrupt.

Although many Israelis accuse the authorities of not doing enough to combat Palestinian terrorism, Palestinians view its security services as an extension of the Israeli security apparatus due to their regular crackdown on Palestinian activists and dissidents.

Aaron Boxerman contributed reporting.

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Eric D. Eilerman

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