Ahmad Quraya accepted the position on Monday, following Abbas's resignation after only 100 days in office. 

 

Having been touted by Washington as the region's best hope for peace, Abbas's government floundered under Israeli intransigence and a power struggle with Yasir Arafat. 

 

But like Abu Mazin, Quraya's ability to do his job will be ultimately decided by Ariel Sharon and the White House. 

Protracted row

His appointment came after Arafat and Abbas fell out over control of the Palestinian security and police forces.

The protracted row between the two former comrades effectively paralysed the Palestinian Authority.

Quraya, meanwhile, seems to be under no illusions about the scale of his task.

He had said he would not take the job unless he received guarantees from the US, EU and Israel that they would support his government.

Peace obstacles

And his apprehensions are more than justified because the problems that corroded the Abbas government have not disappeared.

Israel, under the leadership of Ariel Sharon, is doggedly refusing to withdraw its occupation army from Palestinian population centres.

This renders the very existence of any Palestinian government meaningless.

The Israeli army keeps as many as 160 army roadblocks throughout the West Bank, cutting off Palestinian towns from each other and reducing towns and cities to virtual detention camps.

Apartheid wall

And then there is the odious apartheid wall Israel is building in the West Bank, despite US reservations and international criticism.

Ariel Sharon may hold Quraya's
future in his hands 

The London-based human rights organisation Amnesty international has said the wall is devastating the lives of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.

Added to this is the Israeli campaign of assassination against Hamas activists and leaders, the most recent being the failed attempt on Shaikh Ahmad Yasin.

However, despite the evidence, many Palestinians hope Quraya will succeed against the odds.

 

Civil war 

 

But the fact remains his job depends more on what Ariel Sharon does and less on his own endeavours.

Israel expects the new Palestinian government to dismantle the resistance groups.

 

However, Palestinians see this as a provocative demand tantamount to stoking a civil war.


Needless to say, neither the Palestinian public, nor Fatah, would allow such a scenario to materialise.

Furthermore, Israel wants Quraya not only to distance himself from Arafat, but to strip him of any executive powers including the control over security forces.

 

Occupation

But Quraya, himself an Arafat loyalist, would not agree to act at Israel’s beck and call anymore than Abbas did.


So the prospects of Quraya succeeding where Abbas failed seem to be very slim, given Sharon’s intransigence and US reluctance to force Israel's hand.

In fact, Quraya’s premiership may only serve as a reminder that the success of any Palestinian government lies in Israel’s hands.

After all, a government under occupation does not have much room to manoeuvre.