"This was an assassination attempt," the former Palestinian information minister said in a statement on Wednesday.

"If the reason for this attempt on my life was to force me to keep silent, I want everyone to know that I will continue to say what I believe," Amr added.

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmad Quraya has condemned the overnight shooting of the lawmaker who has led calls for reforms, calling the attack further evidence of chaos and lawlessness.

Amr, 57, was shot twice in the right leg minutes after returning home from a television interview in which he criticised Yasir Arafat's performance as president.

Gaza chaos

The shooting followed fighting in Gaza between fighters seeking reforms and forces loyal to Arafat, violence that led Quraya to submit his resignation on Saturday, complaining about chaos.

Various Palestinian groups have
been fighting in Gaza this week

"We strongly condemn this criminal act. This attack is not aimed against Nabil Amr alone," said Quraya after visiting the wounded legislator.

The shooting is further proof of "the paralysis of the security apparatus ... chaos and lack of the rule of law", Quraya added in a statement.

The violence poses the stiffest test of Arafat's leadership since Palestinians obtained limited self-rule from Israel in Gaza and the West Bank a decade ago. Some fear the strife could
eventually escalate into civil war.

In a note written from his hospital bed, Amr called for "intensive efforts to achieve quiet and to depart from any emotional reaction because the situation is very tense".

Palestinian sources said Amr, a former information minister, has long been at odds with veteran leader Arafat about the pace of reforms in institutions seen as out of touch. His home has been shot at in the past.

"The attempt to assassinate Amr should be an eye opener for all of us," said Palestinian minister Saib Uraiqat. "This is an action we strongly condemn. There should be a massive effort to restore the rule of law."