Wednesday, April 8, 2015

If a Palestinian Minister Falls and No One Is Around to Hear It…


Mohammed Mustafa is the most important man in the Palestinian economy and a close confidant of Mahmoud Abbas. His resignation yesterday should be big news.

Big news stories are a dime a dozen these days. Between the Iran nuclear talks in Lausanne, Switzerland, and the war in Yemen, it’s an ideal environment for making an important announcement and barely making any headlines.

Perhaps that’s what Mohammed Mustafa, the powerful deputy prime minister and economy minister of the Palestinian Authority (PA), was hoping for when he unexpectedly resigned yesterday morning at a regular meeting of the cabinet. A longtime confidant of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, Mustafa was once rumored to be the frontrunner for prime minister after the exodus of celebrated reformer Salaam Fayyad in 2013. But you wouldn’t have known it, given the lack of reaction to yesterday’s news.

Mustafa’s exit is a sign of great change on the horizon. He has been a key Abbas ally since Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in 2007. He helped Abbas consolidate dozens of organizations within the Palestinian Authority for fear of losing them to Hamas — or for fear of having international sanctions rain down once Hamas, a designated terrorist group, gained a foothold in PA institutions.

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