Extremists rise in new Palestinian Authority government as Biden threatens Israel over Gaza war

JERUSALEM – The new Palestinian Authority (PA) government sworn into office this week by PA President Mahmoud Abbas – and warmly welcomed by the White House and the State Department – includes at least two ministers who hold extreme and racist views toward Israel and Jews, Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), an Israeli organization that draws attention to Palestinian extremism, has revealed. 

Citing articles in the Palestinian media and video clips from recent public events, PMW revealed how the new minister of religious affairs, Muhammad Mustafa Najem, has openly incited violence against Israelis as a religious imperative, characterizing Jews as evil and treacherous, and quoted a verse from the Quran that refers to Jews as “apes and pigs.” 

Another member of the new government, Minister of Women’s Affairs Muna Al-Khalili, is shown to have praised Palestinian terror and, as recently as last month at a conference in Egypt, claimed that the brutal Hamas terror attacks on Oct. 7 – the worst atrocity committed against Jews since the Holocaust in World War II – was an act of legitimate resistance. 

BIDEN WARNS NETANYAHU THAT US WILL CHANGE POLICY ON GAZA UNLESS ISRAEL PROTECTS CIVILIANS

President Mahmud Abbas poses with the new Palestinian government after it was sworn in on March 31, 2024, in Ramallah, in the West Bank. (Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP via Getty Images)

Since Hamas’ attacks and the subsequent war with Israel that has ravaged much of the Gaza Strip, the U.S. administration has been urging Abbas to reform and revitalize his governing authority, which has long been accused of corruption and extremism, so that it might be part of a solution for governing Gaza – in addition to the West Bank – after the war. 

The changes made this week, which Abbas said would include plans for institutional reform, restructuring and unifying institutions, as well as fighting corruption, raising the level of services and a digital transformation, are being viewed by the U.S. as part of its desired reformation.

However, many Palestinians have said no real change can take place as long as Abbas remains at the helm; and Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, remain steadfast in rejecting the idea that the authority will be part of any post-war solution for Gaza, pointing out that it is just as problematic as Hamas, a U.S.-designated terror group. 

BIDEN’S VISION FOR A PALESTINIAN STATE DOOMED, EXPERTS SAY: ‘AN EXPLICIT RECOGNITION OF HAMAS’

“The assumption that a ‘revitalized’ Palestinian Authority will bring moderate and pragmatic figures, or soften the Palestinian position toward Israel, is totally false,” Khaled Abu Toameh, a Palestinian affairs analyst based in Jerusalem, told Fox News Digital. 

PA Prime Minister Mohammed Mustafa

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Mustafa chairs a cabinet meeting in Ramallah on April 2, 2024. (Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP via Getty Images)

He said it was totally unrealistic to expect the new cabinet ministers to “endorse a pragmatic approach toward Israel,” especially with the war in Gaza raging, and pointed out that even “many Palestinians do not understand the difference between the new Palestinian government and the previous one.”

“In his first speech at the cabinet meeting, the new prime minister, Mohammed Mustafa, also employed hardline rhetoric against Israel because of the war in Gaza, while completely ignoring Hamas’ responsibility,” Abu Toameh said, adding, “in this regard, he sounded exactly like his predecessor, Mohammed Shtayyeh.”

He said that Shtayyeh, who quit as prime minister in February, also spoke about refoming the authority but “not much happened.”

WHY MIDEAST NEIGHBORS WON’T OFFER REFUGE TO PALESTINIANS STUCK IN GAZA WAR ZONE

Abbas and Blinken

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks with Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas during a meeting in Amman on Oct. 13, 2023. (Jacquelyn Martin/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Change will not happen “as long as President Mahmoud Abbas and his inner circle are the real and sole decision-makers,” Abu Toameh said. “At the end of the day, the cabinet reshuffle came to appease the U.S. administration, and not out of a sincere desire to introduce financial and administrative reforms or engage in a peace process with Israel.”

Kobi Michael, a senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv who closely follows events in Palestinian society, also said the new Palestinian Authority leadership was unlikely to bring about any significant changes if Abbas was still in charge.

“The appointment of Mohammed Mustafa is really just replacing one Mohammed with another Mohammed,” he said. “He is part of the same production line.” 

gaza war 2014

Smoke rises after an attack on Gaza City by Israeli aircraft on July 29, 2014. (Sameh Rahmi/NurPhoto/Corbis via Getty Images)

Michael said Mustafa, who previously served as the deputy prime minister and minister of the economy, was a close ally and adviser of Abbas and “he will do whatever Abbas tells him to do.” 

“He is there in order to preserve the interests of Abbas and the last interest of Abbas is reform,” Michael said, calling the current Palestinian Authority “a lost cause.”

Responding to the announcement of the new Palestinian government, however, State Department spokesperson Mathew Miller said in a statement that “the United States looks forward to working with the new cabinet to promote peace, security, and prosperity and will be engaging this new government to deliver on credible reforms.” 

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION SILENT OVER HAMAS’ USE OF GAZA HOSPITAL AS TERROR HQ

Prime Minister of Israel Netanyahu, US President Biden, Palestinian President Abbas

Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Biden and Palestinian leader Abbas (Getty Images)

“A revitalized PA is essential to delivering results for the Palestinian people in both the West Bank and Gaza and establishing the conditions for stability in the broader region,” he said. 

Responding to a Fox News Digital request for a comment about the racist and inciting public statements attributed to newly appointed Palestinian ministers, a State Department Spokesman said “We are aware of reports that certain P.A. cabinet members have used unacceptable language. We have been absolutely clear on this score: Inflammatory, hateful, or dehumanizing speech by any party does not advance peace.” 

A Palestinian Authority spokesman contacted by Fox News Digital did not comment on the claims by publication time.

Jonathan Schanzer, the senior vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, told Fox News Digital that the U.S. was “perpetuating the fiction of a reformed Palestinian government” and was ignoring its problematic nature in order to achieve its own objectives. 

“Mohammed Mustafa is not a reformer, he is a longtime crony of Mahmoud Abbas who has benefited from the corrupt system that Abbas has presided over now for nearly two decades,” he said. “I think it’s important to note that if Abbas remains president of this government – and he is now 19 years into a four-year term – this is not reform.” 

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Palestinian funeral

Palestinians march during the funeral of terrorists killed in clashes the previous day in an Israeli military operation in Jenin in the West Bank on July 5, 2023. (Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP via Getty Images)

“When we see the rhetoric of some of these individuals, we can see that not only are they not reformers, but they are also in fact radicals, and this should undermine the entire process that is underway,” said Schanzer, adding that the administration was so focused on its objective of having the Palestinian Authority “inherit the Gaza Strip,” that it was “willing to turn a blind eye to a wide range of problems in order to try to achieve this objective.” 

“I believe that ignoring these problems will ultimately lead us down the same path we have been on for years and years and years,” he said. 

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