RAMALLAH Ñ Egypt has brokered a compromise to resolve a crisis
between Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat and his new prime
minister regarding the appointment of an interior minister.
Under the compromise, PA Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas would appoint
himself interior minister. A former PA security chief would be named
minister of security.
Hours after the deal was announced, a Palestinian suicide bomber
attacked an Israeli railroad station during rush hour on Thursday morning.
At least one Israeli was killed and 14 others were injured in an attack in
which Arafat's Fatah movement claimed responsibility.
PA officials said Egyptian security chief Omar Suleiman arrived in
Ramallah to work out the compromise between Abbas and Arafat. Arafat wanted
incumbent Interior Minister Hani Al Hassan to remain in his post.
"Arafat and brother Abu Mazen have sorted out their differences," PA
secretary-general Tayib Abdul Rahim said.
Palestinian officials said Egypt relayed a pledge from the United States
that it would work to ease Israeli pressure on Arafat. Washington was said
to have pledged to restore Arafat's freedom of movement and guarantee that
would continue to make major decisions in the PA.
Under the deal, Abbas agreed not to appoint former PA security chief
Mohammed Dahlan as interior minister. Instead, Dahlan would be named
minister of security and Abbas would become interior minister in addition to
being prime minister.
The dispute over the interior minister concerned both PA security policy
as well as who would decide on security issues. Abbas has advocated an end
to the Israeli-Palestinian war and tougher efforts against Palestinian
Palestinian sources said that as interior minister Abbas would be
responsible for two security agencies as well as the civil defense command.
Another 10 PA security organizations would remain under Arafat's direct
PA officials said Abbas and Arafat did not yet agree on the rest of the
Cabinet. They said the Palestinian Legislative Council is expected to vote
on the new Cabinet next week.
On Thursday, at least one Israeli was killed and 14 others were injured,
one of them critically, in a Palestinian suicide bombing in the central city
of Kfar Saba. Israeli authorities said the Palestinian blew himself up after
a security guard prevented the bomber from entering the station.
The bomber was identified as an 18-year-old resident of the Balata
refugee camp outside the West Bank city of Nablus. The Fatah-controlled Al
Aqsa Martyrs Brigade claimed responsibility for the attack.
Palestinian insurgency groups had criticized the appointment of Abbas as
interior minister and said they would resist any PA crackdown. The Popular
Front for the Liberation of Palestine also claimed responsibility for what
it said was a joint attack with Al Aqsa in Kfar Saba.