*** ----> New Palestinian government gets wary greeting | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

New Palestinian government gets wary greeting

AFP | Ramallah, Palestinian Territories                                              

The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com

A new Palestinian government that contains both Gazans and four women was sworn in Sunday, but was already facing scepticism from its own people.

The Palestinian Authority led by Mahmud Abbas is under pressure from Washington to prepare to step into the breach in the aftermath of the Gaza war and undertake reforms.

Newly-appointed prime minister Mohammed Mustafa said his government's "top national priority" was ending the war as he named his new team.

He said his cabinet "will work on formulating visions to reunify the institutions, including assuming responsibility for Gaza".

President Abbas, 88, is being nudged by the United States to shake the creaking authority up so it can reunite the occupied West Bank and the devastated Gaza Strip under a single rule after the war.

The Palestinian Authority has had almost no influence over the Gaza Strip since Hamas took power there in 2007 from Abbas's Fatah party. Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Abbas to make "administrative reforms" when the two men met in January.

Abbas's Ramallah-based administration has been hamstrung by Israel's decades-old occupation of the West Bank and his own unpopularity. Mustafa, an economist and longtime Abbas advisor, said the "reconstruction" of the Palestinian territories was his main goal, with Gaza in ruins after six months of Israeli bombardment in retaliation for the October 7 attack.

His new cabinet is made up of 23 ministers and includes four women and six ministers from Gaza, among them former Gaza City mayor Maged Abu Ramadan who has been given the health portfolio.

Among the new female faces is Varsen Aghabekian, a Palestinian-Armenian academic who will work alongside Mustafa in the foreign ministry, which he also controls. ‘Deepen divisions’ The premier, who previously worked for the World Bank, said the thorny issue of Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem was also a top priority along with the “fight against corruption”.

But many doubt whether the Palestinian Authority -- which has been dogged by divisions, corruption scandals and the authoritarian tendencies of its ageing leader -- can be a credible player in any future deal.

Ali Jarbawi, a former PA minister and political scientist, said it faces massive challenges on all fronts. “It is broke and it’s in debt and can’t pay its salaries, so it needs immediate financial support,” he said.