Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has chosen his close adviser Mohammad Shtayyeh to be the new prime minister, the Palestinian news agency WAFA reported on Sunday.

Abbas tasked Shtayyeh, a Fatah central committee member, with forming the new government, according to the news agency.

His appointment comes after Abbas accepted the resignation of outgoing Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in January and asked him to serve as a caretaker until a new government is formed.

Shtayyeh has three weeks to form a government and may get an extension of two weeks. If he fails, someone else will be asked to form the government.

Shtayyeh, 60, is an economist with a PhD from the University of Sussex in England.

He is from the northern West Bank city of Nablus and has previously served as minister of housing and construction in addition to serving as head of the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction (PECDAR). In 2013, he was a member of the Palestinian peace negotiations team until the entire team resigned in protest against Israel's settlements policy.

Hamdallah, who headed a government of national consensus since 2015 composed mainly of technocrats, resigned on January 29 following the failure of reconciliation talks between Abbas' Fatah party and the Islamist Hamas movement, Fatah's archival, which has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007.

Fatah has pressured Abbas to name one of its members to head the new government, and Shtayyeh had been a front runner for the post since Hamdallah's resignation.

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