The Palestinian Authority exercises limited governance over parts of the occupied West Bank but lost power in Gaza following a factional struggle with Hamas in 2007.

It has been badly weakened over the years and surveys show it is deeply unpopular among Palestinians. But it remains the only leadership body generally recognised by the international community.

Palestinian leaders say its ability to exercise effective governance has been effectively blocked by Israeli restrictions, which have included withholding tax revenues due under the Oslo accords. For months, the Authority has been unable to pay full public sector salaries because of a row over the refusal by the Israeli finance ministry to release part of the funds.

Israel has long accused the Authority of supporting terrorism by offering financial support to the families of militants killed by Israeli forces and allowing antisemitic material to be included in school textbooks.

Israel has also attacked Palestinian leaders, including Abbas, for not condemning the Hamas-led attack on Israel on Oct 7.

Fatah, the faction that controls the Authority, and Hamas, designated as a terrorist organisation by the United States and the European Union, have made efforts to bridge their differences and reach an agreement over a unity government and are due to meet in Moscow on Wednesday. A senior Hamas official said the move had to be followed by a broader agreement on governance for the Palestinians.

“The resignation of Shtayyeh’s government only makes sense if it comes within the context of national consensus on arrangements for the next phase,” senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters.

Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas and says that for security reasons, it will not accept Palestinian Authority rule over Gaza after the war, which broke out following the Hamas-led attack on southern Israel on Oct 7, which killed some 1,200 Israelis and foreigners, according to Israeli tallies.

So far, almost 30,000 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza fighting, according to Palestinian health authorities, and almost the entire population have been driven from their homes. 

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