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President Abbas Named Mohammad Mustafa As New Palestinian PM

President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority (PA) has appointed Mohammad Mustafa as the new Prime Minister. Mustafa, a U.S.-educated economist, is one of the leading Palestinian business figures with a track record of overseeing Gaza’s reconstruction efforts under Hamas’ rule.

Rebuilding Gaza and Bridging Divides

Mustafa faces a monumental task of managing the reconstruction efforts in Gaza, where swathes of the territory lie in rubble after five months of Israeli bombardment following the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7. With over 2.3 million Gazans displaced and in need of aid, he will need to oversee the distribution of billions in expected international aid.

Additionally, Mustafa will be tasked with bridging the divide between the internationally recognized PA, which exercises limited self-rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and Hamas, which has controlled Gaza since 2007. The PA aims to reunify governance of Palestinian lands after the Gaza war, and Mustafa’s appointment as a non-Fatah member is seen as a potential unifying factor.

Key Challenges and Objectives

Mustafa’s challenges include:

  1. Political Buy-in: Securing cooperation from Hamas and its supporters, as well as from Israel, which seeks to eradicate Hamas.
  2. Reconstruction and Aid Management: Overseeing the rebuilding of Gaza and managing the distribution of international aid effectively.
  3. Unity and Governance: Reuniting the governance of the West Bank and Gaza, while also addressing the PA’s call for institutional reforms and better governance.
  4. Statehood and Peace Process: Reviving the stalled peace process and working towards the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, as envisioned by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

Background and Credentials

Mustafa’s credentials and experience make him a suitable candidate for the challenging task ahead:

  • U.S.-educated with a Ph.D. in Business Administration and Economics from George Washington University.
  • Served as chairman of the Palestine Investment Fund (PIF), with nearly $1 billion in assets funding projects across Palestinian territories.
  • Oversaw Gaza’s reconstruction efforts after the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas.
  • Member of the executive committee of the PLO, which recognized Israel and seeks a two-state solution.

Seeking Inclusivity and Unity

In his remarks at the World Economic Forum in Davos on January 17, Mustafa expressed the need for inclusivity, stating, “The best way forward is to be as inclusive as possible.” He also reiterated the PLO’s agenda of achieving statehood for Palestinians, saying, “Until today, we still believe that statehood for Palestinians is the way forward.”

As the new Prime Minister, Mustafa will need to navigate the complex political landscape and work towards uniting the Palestinian territories, while also addressing the pressing humanitarian crisis in Gaza and reviving the stalled peace process with Israel.

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