Abbas threatens to resign, charges Arafat incited Hamas

Thursday, June 12, 2003

RAMALLAH Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas has threatened to resign after his failure to prevent an escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian insurgency war.

Palestinian sources said Abbas has accused Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat of inciting Hamas to escalate attacks against Israel in an attempt to undermine the new prime minister.

"Abbas is not kidding about resigning," a Palestinian source said. "He is under great pressure and he doesn't operate well under pressure."

Abbas has told allies in the Fatah movement that he has been isolated in his efforts to achieve a ceasefire in the Israeli-Palestinian war, Middle East Newsline reported. They said the threat by Abbas to resign has been augmented by warnings that his Cabinet ministers will walk off their jobs.

Palestinian sources said several ministers have given Abbas two weeks to assume control of the government and end Israeli attacks on Palestinians.

Palestinian insurgency groups have been pressuring Abbas to resign or renounce his offer for a reconciliation with Israel. The sources said pressure has also come from Arafat's allies in Fatah for Abbas to quit.

The sources said Abbas has been lowering his profile amid the escalation in attacks. They said Information Minister Nabil Amr and Security Affairs Mohammed Dahlan have fulfilled many of Abbas's functions in civilian and security policy.

In contrast, the sources said, Arafat has increased his profile and has prepared a replacement for Abbas. The replacement has been identified as Palestinian Legislative Council speaker Ahmed Qurei.

On Wednesday, Arafat met with Palestinian insurgency leaders and later called for a ceasefire in cooperation with the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia.

In Gaza City, Dahlan issued orders meant to increase police discipline. The orders include a ban on releasing information to unauthorized individuals or newspapers. Another order prohibits police officers from taking bribes or other work. Offenders could be penalized by imprisonment or dismissal.

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