President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority intends to appoint a longtime insider within the authorities ranks as prime minister, four people with knowledge of the matter said, a move that would amount to a rejection of international pleas to empower an independent prime minister who can revitalize the sclerotic authority.

Mr. Abbas, the octogenarian Palestinian leader who has long ruled by decree, plans to appoint Muhammad Mustafa, a close economic adviser, as prime minister in the coming days, according to two Palestinian officials, a European Union diplomat and a fourth person with knowledge of the matter.

While Mr. Abbas was set on appointing Mr. Mustafa, he was still holding final consultations with Arab countries before signing a presidential decree entrusting Mr. Mustafa with putting together a new government, one of the Palestinian officials and the European Union diplomat said. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to communicate with the media.

Mr. Abbas could change his mind, and a decision to appoint Mr. Mustafa will only be final if Mr. Abbas signs a decree. After the Palestinian Authority president appoints a prime minister, that person has three weeks to form a government, but can take an additional two weeks, if needed, according to Palestinian basic law.

Muhammad Mustafa in 2013.Credit…Majdi Mohammed/Associated Press

In late February, Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh tendered the resignation of his cabinet, citing the need for a new government that “takes into account the emerging reality in the Gaza Strip.” Mr. Shtayyeh’s government has continued in a caretaker capacity.

Hamas led a deadly assault from Gaza into Israel on Oct. 7, and Israel has answered with intense bombardment and an invasion, vowing to break the group’s grip on the enclave. But those events have raised difficult questions about how a postwar Gaza will be governed and rebuilt.

The Palestinian Authority has limited governing powers on the West Bank. It lost control of Gaza to Hamas in a 2007 power struggle.

The United States has been calling for reforming the widely unpopular Palestinian Authority in recent months, hoping it could eventually assume the reins of governance in Gaza after the war. The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, however, has rejected any such role for the Authority.

Much of the Palestinian public sees the Palestinian Authority as tainted by corruption, mismanagement and cooperation with Israel. With no functional parliament within the areas controlled by the authority, Mr. Abbas, 88, not only rules by decree but exerts wide influence over the judiciary and prosecution system. There has been no presidential election in the Palestinian territories since 2005, and no legislative election since 2006.

While the Biden administration has not told Mr. Abbas whom to appoint as prime minister, it has conveyed that it hopes for an independent figure who is acceptable to ordinary Palestinians, the international community, and Israel, according to Western diplomats, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak with the media.

In the Palestinian Authority, the prime minister is supposed to oversee the work of ministries, but Mr. Abbas often intervenes in decision-making, according to analysts.

Nasser al-Qudwa, a former foreign minister whose name was floated as a possible prime minister, said appointing Mr. Mustafa would represent “no real change.”

“It would be replacing one employee named Mohammed with another employee named Muhammad, while Abbas continues to hold all the cards. What’s the change?” said Mr. Qudwa, a fierce opponent of Mr. Abbas, who is also known as Abu Mazen. “Abu Mazen wants to keep the status quo. He wants to keep all of the power in his hands.”

In addition to serving as Mr. Abbas’s adviser, Mr. Mustafa, an economist educated at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., runs the Palestine Investment Fund, whose board is appointed by the president of the authority. He has previously been the authority’s economy minister and deputy prime minister.

For weeks, Mr. Abbas has been signaling his desire to appoint Mr. Mustafa. In January, he sent Mr. Mustafa to the World Economic Forum’s annual conference in Davos, where heads of state and foreign ministers gather to discuss global affairs.

At the conference, Mr. Mustafa said he thought the Palestinian Authority could improve its governance. “We don’t want to give any excuses for anyone,” he said in a wide-ranging discussion with Borge Brende, the forum’s president. “The Palestinian Authority can do better in terms of building better institutions.”

Any future Palestinian prime minister will likely face enormous challenges, which may include trying to reconstruct the devastated Gaza Strip and improving the credibility of the government.

Jehad Harb, a Ramallah-based analyst, agreed that appointing Mr. Mustafa would be an indication Mr. Abbas has no intention to give up power, but he said judgment on a new government should be reserved until the public learns the identities of its ministers, and how much authority and independence they can wield.

“It’s possible that there’s an opportunity, but we might also see a lost opportunity as we usually do,” he said.

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