Palestinian Authority Prime Minister announces vast reforms following Blinken visit

US Secretary of State called for change during talks with President Mahmoud Abbas in early January

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohamad Shtayyeh speaks during a press conference. AFP
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The Palestinian Authority's Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has announced vast reforms, including an overhaul of institutions and the appointment of several governors and ambassadors to positions that have been vacant for months.

He made the pledges during a speech after a weekly cabinet meeting, as the authority faces increasing criticisms on the need for serious reform.

“Today we announce the launch of the new phase of implementing this programme in the judicial, security, administrative and financial structures, which will focus on strengthening the judicial system and making structural changes, implementing the law and addressing the duration of litigation in the courts, and continuing the dialogue with the union and relevant authorities about approving the assistance system for those in need,” Mr Shtayyeh said on Monday.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to appoint new governors and heads of missions at embassies with vacancies.

“The programme includes several core ministries, addressing the government debt, outstanding water and electricity bills, which Israel deducts from the clearance tax funds, and restructuring some of the services the government provides to citizens,” Mr Shtayyeh said.

The announcement comes two weeks after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Mr Abbas was committed to reforming the Palestinian Authority to potentially reunite the Gaza Strip with the occupied West Bank under its leadership.

His comments followed a meeting with Mr Abbas in Ramallah, during Mr Blinken's fourth Middle East tour since the start of the war.

“The two officials also discussed administrative reforms, which, if implemented, would benefit the Palestinian people,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said at the time.

Mr Blinken told Mr Abbas that Washington supports “tangible steps” towards the creation of a Palestinian state – a long-term goal opposed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's far-right government – however, the question of who will govern Gaza after the war ends has not yet been resolved.

The US could support an administration in Gaza run by the Palestinian Authority, which is run by Mr Abbas's Fatah faction, to enable progress towards a two-state solution.

Mr Blinken told Israeli officials that they must stop undercutting the Palestinians' ability to govern themselves through the expansion of settlements, demolition of homes and evictions in the West Bank.

Mr Netanyahu said after meeting Mr Blinken that “Israel has no intention of permanently occupying Gaza”.

However, Defence Minister Yoav Gallant previously suggested that Israel would retain security control over Gaza after the war, and that it would be governed by an undefined, Israeli-guided Palestinian body, with the US, EU and regional partners taking responsibility for the enclave's reconstruction.

Updated: January 30, 2024, 3:05 AM