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Palestinian Authority Forms New Cabinet, but Doubts Remain About Its Independence

The Palestinian Authority’s new prime minister presented his cabinet on Thursday amid skepticism over its ability to meet international pressure for reform given the power wielded by the president of nearly two decades, Mahmoud Abbas.

Mr. Abbas, 88, is widely unpopular among Palestinians and has long ruled by decree. His appointment of Muhammad Mustafa as prime minister this month amounted to a rejection of international demands to make the authority more technocratic and less corrupt, in the hopes that it could help govern postwar Gaza. Mr. Mustafa is a longtime insider and has been a senior adviser to the president, posing little threat to his power.

On Thursday, Mr. Abbas approved the cabinet selections of Mr. Mustafa, according to Wafa, the Palestinian Authority’s official news agency.

Analysts have said that Mr. Mustafa’s choices for ministers of the interior, finance and foreign affairs — all of whom are close to the authority’s president — would be a good indicator of whether his government would signal at least a modicum of change.

The current interior minister will stay in place but the finance ministry will get new leadership, Wafa reported. Mr. Mustafa, an economist who has worked for the World Bank and the Palestine Investment Fund, will serve as foreign minister in addition to prime minister, the agency reported.

“All of the indications are that this government is completely under Abu Mazen’s thumb,” said Ghaith al-Omari, a former adviser to Mr. Abbas, using Mr. Abbas’s nickname. “There’s nothing to show that there will be a change of policy.”

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