Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh chairs a cabinet meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah before his government's resignation. Image Credit: AFP

JERUSALEM: Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said his government was resigning, in a move that could open the door to US-backed reforms in the Palestinian Authority.

“I submit the government’s resignation to Mr President (Mahmud Abbas),” Shtayyeh said, adding it comes in the wake of the “developments related to the aggression against the Gaza Strip and the escalation in the West Bank and Jerusalem”.

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President Mahmoud Abbas must still decide whether he accepts Shtayyeh and his government’s resignation, tendered on Monday.

But the move signals a willingness by the Western-backed Palestinian leadership to accept shake-up that might usher in reforms seen as necessary to revitalize the Palestinian Authority.

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The move comes as the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza continues and with Arab and Western states trying to formulate a post-conflict plan for the Palestinian territory.

The US wants a reformed Palestinian Authority to govern Gaza once the war is over. But many obstacles remain to making that vision a reality.

Emerging reality

In a statement to cabinet, Shtayyeh, an academic economist who took office in 2019, said the next stage would need to take account of the emerging reality in Gaza, which has been laid waste by nearly five months of heavy fighting.

He said the next stage would “require new governmental and political arrangements that take into account the emerging reality in the Gaza Strip, the national unity talks, and the urgent need for an inter-Palestinian consensus”.

In addition, it would require “the extension of the Authority’s authority over the entire land, Palestine”.

The Palestinian Authority, formed 30 years ago under the interim Oslo peace accords, exercises limited governance over parts of the occupied West Bank but lost power in Gaza following a struggle with Hamas in 2007.

Fatah, the faction that controls the PA, and Hamas have made efforts to reach an agreement over a unity government and are due to meet in Moscow on Wednesday.

A senior Hamas official said the move had to be followed by a broader agreement on governance for the Palestinians.

“The resignation of Shtayyeh’s government only makes sense if it comes within the context of national consensus on arrangements for the next phase,” senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters.

Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas and says that for security reasons, it will not accept Palestinian Authority rule over Gaza after the war, which broke out following a Hamas-led attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7, which killed some 1,200 Israelis and foreigners, according to Israeli tallies.

So far, almost 30,000 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza fighting, according to Palestinian health authorities, and almost the entire population has been driven from their homes.