RAMALLAH Ñ Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat has won
approval for a longtime loyalist to be appointed prime minister.
The Fatah Central Council approved the appointment of Palestinian
Legislative Council speaker Ahmed Qurei as prime minister. Under the
proposed move, Qurei would replace Mahmoud Abbas, who resigned as prime
minister on Saturday.
Qurei, 66, has not said he would accept the post. The PLC speaker, who
is in poor health, was said to have dismissed earlier appeals to become
But a Palestinian official said Arafat plans to name Qurei as the new
prime minister as early as Monday. The official said Qurei does not plan to
turn down the PA chairman, who also intends to appoint a deputy prime
minister and interior minister.
Abbas quit on Saturday in wake of a violent demonstration by Arafat
supporters as the prime minister addressed the PLC. The prime minister cited
a series of reasons for his resignation, including what he termed a
"dangerous incitement" campaign against his government and its policies.
Qurei, sent by Arafat to help negotiate the Israeli-PLO deal in 1993,
has long served Arafat as the financial chief of the PLO. Qurei was the
chairman of the Palestinian National Fund, which operated businesses and PLO
fronts in Africa and Europe.
Palestinian sources said Qurei has been informally designated by Arafat
as the heir of the PA chairman. Qurei, expected to renew efforts for another
ceasefire declaration by Palestinian insurgency groups, also has extensive
ties with Israel.
Overnight Monday, Israel's military continued its offensive against
Hamas strongholds in the Gaza Strip. Israeli attack helicopters fired
missiles toward a suspected Hamas armory near Khan Yunis. Palestinian
sources said 10 people were injured in the attack. They said the armory was
Hours later, Palestinian gunners fired six mortars on Israeli
communities in the central Gaza Strip. Nobody was injured.