The legislators largely endorsed a parliamentary committee's report that accused the cabinet, led by Prime Minister Ahmed Quraei, of mishandling the Palestinian Authority's response to factional anarchy, but stopped short of a no-confidence vote.

Signalling growing public frustation with lawlessness in Palestinian areas, legislators voted 43 to five, with five
absentions, to call on Abbas to form a new government in two weeks or face a no-confidence vote.

The proposal was the result of behind-the-scenes negotiations between legislators and Quraei.

As part of the compromise, Abbas could ask Quraei to form the next government and the criticism of the government was not as severe as in a no-confidence motion.

The new Cabinet has to be presented to parliament within two weeks, said Deputy Speaker Hasan Khraisha.

The legislators voted after a nine-member committee presented a special report on the deteriorating security
situation, singling out the interior minister, Nasser Yousef, who is in charge of the security forces.

The report said Palestinian police had done little to control the chaos in the streets of the West Bank and Gaza.

"The government failed to put an end to the deterioration," the report said.

Police angry

Legislators voted 43 - 5, with five
absentions, for a new government

The vote added to pressure on Abbas shortly after dozens of policemen angry at the killing of their commander by Hamas fighters stormed a building where the Gaza contingent of the Palestinian Legislative Council was participating by video link in a session in the West Bank city of Ram Allah.

Less than two hours earlier, policemen rushed into Gaza's parliament building to demand a security crackdown on Hamas fighters who killed the police commander on Sunday.

There was no shooting in the building, but shots were fired outside the compound in Gaza City. One armed policeman entered the chamber, briefly interrupting the session, before he and his comrades withdrew.

There were no reports of casualties in the incident, which took place while Abbas was in Gaza but not in the building.

A no-confidence motion would force Abbas to name a new government. His own post is safe because he was elected by popular vote in January.

The report, by 18 pro-reform members of Abbas's Fatah party, urged him to "form a government that is capable of delivering in its tasks" as well as "fire all directors of security services who failed to fulfil their duties and appoint new ones".

Clashes

A Palestinian policeman and two
civilians died in Sunday's clashes

Monday's parliamentary meeting follows the death of three Palestinians, including a police officer, in clashes between Palestinian police and Hamas fighters in Gaza on Sunday. 

Both sides blame the other for sparking the clashes that also wounded 50, five of them seriously.

On Sunday night, resistance groups, including Hamas, met to discuss the situation as well.

It was agreed to immediately end clashes in the streets, said Aljazeera's correspondent in Gaza, Wail al-Dahduh.

The meetings on Monday will focus on the "honour covenant" that controls relations between factions and the Palestinian Authority.

Regrettable

The deputy head of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Hasan Khraisha, told Aljazeera that the clashes were unacceptable and called for an investigation.

"This is unacceptable in the Palestinian street"

Hasan Khraisha, deputy head, Palestinian Legislative Council

"How strange it is that when all sides and groups claim they care about national unity and safety of Palestinian citizens, what is taking place on the ground is totally different. 
 
"They indicate the necessity of Palestinian public intervention to end these incidents as they bring the Palestinian society into a state of self destruction, as if we are destroying ourselves," Khreisha added. 
 
"This is unacceptable in the Palestinian street, the Palestinian Authority and organisations."

The council demands a neutral investigation into the fighting, Khreisha said.  

Third force 
 
Asked about what was behind the conflict, Khraisha said the Israeli occupation authority was the only beneficiary of inter-Palestinian conflict. 

PA official: Armed chaos not the
same as resistance

"This is a part of the Israeli historical plans to spark strife and inter-Palestinian fights," he said. 
 
"However, our historical experiences have taught Palestinians not to be affected with such Israeli interventions."   
 
Khraisha also dismissed accusations by Hamas that a group inside the PA is sparking the tension.
 
"I don't believe there is a single Palestinian official who has called for necessity of disarmament of resistance arms.
 
"There is a difference between arms chaos and the resistance arms."
 
Arrests

Meanwhile, the Israeli military has detained another 40 members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad as part of a mass arrest operation in the West Bank overnight, an army spokesman said on Monday.

The Israeli army has detained 40
Palestinians in the West Bank  

Nearly 500 Palestinians have been detained in the West Bank by Israel since 25 September after a flare-up in conflict in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli sources said on Sunday they had decided to suspend an offensive in Gaza that involved bombing raids, including two air strikes that killed four resistance fighters.

Israeli army chief of staff General Dan Halutz said the aim of the arrests was to "root out attempts to launch terrorist attacks".

Halutz criticised the idea of Hamas - which has been behind the majority of anti-Israeli attacks during the five-year Palestinian uprising - being allowed to compete in January's legislative elections.

"It's inconceivable that an organisation that is using terrorism can dance to two tunes - a political one and terrorist one."