A third of Palestinian legislators sign petition decrying lawlessness

Monday, October 25, 2004

RAMALLAH About a third of the Palestinian Legislative Council has signed a petition that warned of the prospect of anarchy in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The legislators have called for a reform policy meant to crack down on crime and halt attacks by Fatah-aligned insurgents on the Palestinian Authority and PLC facilities. They have also called for the dismissal of Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei, blamed for having failed to stop the lawlessness.

The legislators complained that gunmen of Palestinian insurgency groups have been hired by those seeking to intimidate their political rivals. They said PA security forces have failed to protect either Palestinians or PA facilities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

"The Cabinet and the interior minister are responsible for the deterioration of security," Hamas-aligned legislator Imad Falouji said during a session on Oct. 21. "They are not doing anything to pursue the perpetrators and those who are financing and arming them. Some of them are carrying out attacks in broad daylight and without masks because they are confident they will not be held accountable."

[On Monday, Israeli combat helicopters struck five times Palestinian insurgency strongholds in the central Gaza Strip city of Khan Yunis in an attempt to stop Hamas mortar attacks on a neighboring Jewish community.

Palestinian sources said 14 Palestinians were killed and 40 were injured.]

So far, 24 legislators signed the petition for the dismissal of Qurei and his Cabinet. A session to discuss and vote on a no-confidence motion could be held in November after Qurei was expected to review the performance of his government.

Last week's session, recessed twice to prevent violence, was marred by legislators threatening their colleagues. At one point, PLC member Azmi Shuaibi warned that he would order an assault on PLC Financial Committee chairman Saadi Al Krunz.

Over the last week, eight people were injured in a night-long clash between two PA security agencies in the Gaza Strip. In the northern West Bank city of Jenin, Fatah insurgents raided offices of the PA and PLC.

In July 2004, PLC member Nabil Amr, a critic of PA Chairman Yasser Arafat, was shot and seriously injured in Ramallah. Amr, taken to Germany where his leg was amputated, has sent a letter to the PLC that accused it of ignoring the attack.

"We are living in a situation where the security forces need protection," PLC member Burhan Jarrar said. "What is most serious is that the security forces are loyal to certain people and are involved in many problems."

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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