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US welcomes new Palestinian cabinet, pushes for reforms

The Palestinian Authority has been under US pressure to undertake various reforms amid proposals that it take the reins in the Gaza Strip after the war ends.
Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas (R) receives German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock at his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah on March 25, 2024. (Photo by Nasser Nasser / POOL / AFP) (Photo by NASSER NASSER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller on Thursday urged the newly formed Palestinian government to take on reforms.

“We have encouraged them to implement reforms that crack down on corruption, increase transparency, increase media freedoms and increase the ability for civil society to engage with the government,” Miller said during a briefing. 

“We will engage with this government based on its actions…We’ll be closely tracking the steps it takes to advance key reforms and look forward to engaging with them on that matter,” he added.

Earlier in the day, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas approved a new cabinet amid growing reports that a new government and a reformed PA would take over the Gaza Strip after the end of the Israel-Hamas war.

Prime Minister-designate Mohammad Mustafa submitted his cabinet lineup and plan of action to Abbas, who issued a presidential decree installing the new government, the official Palestinian WAFA news agency reported.

The new formation includes 23 ministers, five of them from Gaza, according to the Associated Press. In addition to the premiership, Mustafa will also hold the position of foreign minister.

Ziad Hab al-Reeh, former head of the PA's internal intelligence agency and member of the Fatah faction — which Abbas also heads — remained in his position as interior minister. Muhamad al-Amour, former head of the Palestinian Businessmen Association, was appointed economy minister.

The government’s program includes plans to facilitate relief and humanitarian aid for the Palestinians in Gaza as well as reconstruction efforts in both Gaza and the West Bank, according to WAFA. The government will also work on reforming and unifying institutions in the West Bank and Gaza.

Abbas had tasked Mustafa with forming a new government earlier this month.

Mustafa, who chairs the board of the Palestine Investment Fund, is also a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee. He has served as Abbas’ senior economic adviser since 2005, and he held the position of minister of national economy from 2013 to 2014.

His appointment came amid growing US pressure to overhaul the PA and form a new government capable of running postwar Gaza.

Hamas has been ruling the Gaza Strip since expelling the PA in 2007. Since then, all mediation efforts by regional actors have failed to end the Palestinian division.

Israel launched an air and ground campaign in the Gaza Strip in response to Hamas’ cross-border assault on Oct. 7, during which militants killed nearly 1,200 people and took over 240 others hostage. In Gaza, the war has left more than 32,000 people dead and nearly 75,000 others injured, according to the Health Ministry in the enclave.