Economist Mohammad Mustafa tipped to be next Palestinian Authority prime minister

Economist Mohammad Mustafa tipped to be next Palestinian Authority prime minister
President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to announce the new prime minister in the coming days, following weeks of speculation about the Palestinian Authority.
2 min read
13 March, 2024
France's Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici (R) talks with Mohammad Mustafa in the West Bank, on November 18, 2013 [GETTY]

Economist and former deputy prime minister Mohammad Mustafa is expected to be named as the Palestinian Authority's next prime minister by President Mahmoud Abbas, as part of burgeoning plans for the post-war governance of Gaza and the West Bank.

The post is currently vacant after Mohammed Shtayyeh stepped down as premier in February to make way for a technocratic government of experts and businesspeople.

Mustafa, who worked at the World Bank for 15 years and was PA deputy prime minister from 2013 to 2014, is said to have received the backing of close ally Abbas.

Officials cited by The Times of Israel said Mustafa has been meeting with prospective cabinet members in recent weeks and has been on a whistle-stop tour to Washington.

The announcement is expected to be made in the coming days and would initiate a process which could see the PA’s 16-year president Abbas step aside.

A January report from The New York Times cited Arab, Israeli, and US officials discussing a post-war Gaza plan to transfer power from Abbas to a new prime minister, leaving the president in a ceremonial role.

Throughout his tenure, 88-year-old Abbas has become unpopular domestically and has left international diplomats frustrated at his inability to implement reforms to the PA, which has long been dogged by allegations of corruption.

In addition, Abbas has left the Palestinian economy in dire straits leaving people at home discontent and facing criticism for his collusion with Israel.

US-educated Mustafa is not aligned with Fatah or Hamas and as such his neutrality is attractive to Palestinian and regional figures who are hoping to create a government to bridge the divided governance of Gaza and the West Bank.

But observers have pointed out that his closeness to the outgoing president could taper attempts to reform the PA.

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There are hopes that the PA will re-govern both Gaza and the West Bank after Abbas' party Fatah lost control of Gaza in 2007.

Fatah and Hamas officials have been meeting in Moscow in recent weeks to discuss the next steps for Palestinian unity, while Abbas has reportedly been in Turkey and Qatar for consultations.

Mustafa has previously worked for the Saudi and Kuwaiti governments in economic advisory roles and currently chairs the Palestine Investment Fund, a private investment company which works to strengthen the local economy.

It is hoped he could be a binding figure to initiate the rebuilding of Gaza following five months of unprecedented Israeli bombardment. Last week, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said that Gaza’s reconstruction could cost $90 billion.