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West Bank government submits resignation to President Abbas

February 26, 2024

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, but asked him to stay on as a caretaker.

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh speaks
Shtayyeh added that he was resigning to a broad consensus about political arrangementsImage: THOMAS KIENZLE/AFP

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said Monday that he had handed his West Bank government's resignation to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Shtayyeh added that he resigned last Tuesday but handed in the written resignation on Monday.

Abbas accepted the resignation later on Monday and asked Shtayyeh to stay on as caretaker "temporarily until a new government is formed," a statement from the presidency said.

Abbas is widely unpopular in the West Bank and has faced growing anger since the Gaza war began on October 7. Many have criticized him for failing to condemn the Israeli offensive there as well as the rising violence in the West Bank.

What the Palestinian prime minister said

"I submit the government's resignation to Mr. President," Shtayyeh said. He added that it came in the wake of the "developments related to the aggression against the Gaza Strip and the escalation in the West Bank and Jerusalem."

Shtayyeh said he was resigning to allow Palestinians to form a broad consensus about political arrangements amid Israel's war against Hamas, a Palestinian militant group, in Gaza.

Palestinian Authority PM Mohammad Shtayyeh resigns

The US has been pressuring Abbas to shake up the Palestinian Authority, which rules parts of the occupied West Bank. This comes amid international efforts to stop the war and work toward a political structure to govern Gaza afterward.

In a statement to the Cabinet, Shtayyeh 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."

He added that "the extension of the [Palestinian] Authority's authority over the entire land, Palestine," is another requirement.

What is the Palestinian Authority?

The Palestinian Authority was established as an outcome of the 1993 Oslo Accords, to establish partial Palestinian self-governance in some areas of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, in what at the time was a step toward realizing a two-state solution.

The head of the Palestinian Authority is the president, who is elected into the role. The last Palestinian presidential elections took place in 2005, when Abbas was elected, initially for four years.

He has since remained in the post, with new elections consistently proving elusive. Abbas's Fatah has since been at loggerheads with Hamas, which won parliamentary elections in Gaza in 2006.

The Palestinian Authority lost control over the Gaza Strip following a struggle with Hamas in 2007. Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by the European Union, the United States, and Israel.

The Palestinian president in 2021 indefinitely postponed parliamentary elections, saying that Israel had refused to let Palestinians in east Jerusalem vote.

Former PM Mohammad Shtayyeh: 'Allow us to function'

rmt/rc (AFP, Reuters)