RAMALLAH Ñ The Palestinian Authority has announced a ban on
weapons and said its new government would focus on security issues.
The ban was announced by new Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas
addressed the Palestinian Legislative Council on Tuesday and presented the
policy of his new proposed government.
Hours later, the Cabinet was approved by the PLC in a 50-18 vote, Middle East Newsline reported.
"The government will concentrate on the question of security," Abbas
said. "The termination of armed chaos, which directly threatens the
security of the citizen, will be one of our fundamental missions. There is
no place for weapons except in the hands of the government. There is only
Abbas did not say how his proposed government would ban weapons. He did
not specifically prohibit Palestinian militias in the West Bank and Gaza
Strip, and officials said Abbas ordered negotiations with the insurgency
groups for a ceasefire in the war against Israel.
"The government will focus its greatest attention on the professional
qualifications of members of security departments and will not be lenient
towards any violation by security force members," Abbas said.
Abbas has appointed himself interior minister with responsibility for
two of the PA's 13 security agencies. Former PA security chief Mohammed
Dahlan was appointed minister of security.
Over the past year, the PA has announced several bans on weapons by
those other than security forces. The announcements have been ignored by
Palestinian insurgency groups, including that of the ruling Fatah movement
headed by PA Chairman Yasser Arafat. Arafat continues to control 11 PA
security agencies as well as the Fatah militia.
The new Cabinet does not contain a staunch opponent of Arafat and ally
of Abbas. Gen. Nasser Yusef, who served as police commander in the Gaza
Strip in the mid-1990s, had been designated by Abbas to become a minister
with unspecified responsibilities over security agencies. Officials said
Arafat opposed Yusef's appointment.
Palestinian insurgency groups dismissed Abbas's call for an end to
violence. Hamas and Islamic Jihad said they would not disarm until Israel
ends what they termed was the occupation of Palestinian lands.
In Jerusalem, Israeli Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Moshe Ya'alon said the
military has prepared a redeployment plan for the West Bank and Gaza
Strip. He said the military plans to relocate troops once the PA is deemed
to have launched what he termed an effective battle against terrorism.
In his address to the PLC, Abbas vowed to crack down on official
corruption. He said he would not allow his ministers or their aides to
exploit their authority.
"The government will not allow anyone to misuse his position," Abbas
said. "The government will not hesitate to bring corrupt people to court
based on fair mechanisms."