Palestinian cabinet deal reached

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmad Quraya has announced that he has sealed a deal with President Yasir Arafat on a new government and will seek parliamentary approval next week.

    Israel slammed decision to leave Arafat (L) in control of security

    The deal, announced on Sunday, kept security powers under Arafat’s control.  
       
    Quraya’s candidate for interior minister, Nasr Yusuf, would not hold a cabinet post, the premier told reporters. Instead, Arafat loyalist Hakam Balaawi would become interior minister in charge of police, civil defence and preventive security.

    The five other Palestinian security services would be overseen by a national council chaired by Arafat, accused by Israel and the United States of encouraging resistance attacks during the Intifada or uprising against Israel’s occupation. Arafat categorically denies the allegation.

    “We also agreed on a formula to unify the work of the security services of the Palestinian Authority headed by President Arafat in order to fulfil all the obligations to end chaos and achieve security," said Quraya. 

    Impasse ends
       
    The deal ended a month-long impasse over composition of a new government, but did not meet Israeli and US demands to sideline Arafat.

    Quraya and Sharon have expressed willingness to discuss reviving the blueprint towards a Palestinian state once the Palestinian legislature meets in a few days to approve the cabinet. 

    Meanwhile, Israel described the government as a “non-starter” to push forward the US blueprint and claimed it extended a “terror cartel” run by Arafat.

    Israel has demanded that the Palestinian Authority should crackdown on resistance groups spearheading the Intifada, a demand the Palestinians have rejected for fear of triggering civil war.

    Palestinian toll rises

    In related news, two Palestinians, including a child, who were wounded during recent Israeli army invasions in the occupied West Bank, died of their wounds on Sunday. 

    Apartheid wall is condemned
    globally ... even by the US

    Ahmad Marai, seven, sustained serious head injuries in the northern West Bank refugee camp of Jenin on Saturday when Israeli soldiers opened fire in the area, said Palestinian medical sources. 

    And across the occupied West Bank  hundreds of Palestinians joined by Israeli and foreign peace activists demonstrated in several West Bank cities and villages against Israel's apartheid wall. 

    In the village of Zabuba, at the northernmost tip of the West
    Bank, about 600 people staged a protest and a group of foreign activists from the International Solidarity Movement cut a hole in the fence.

    One of the gates in the barrier was torn down before Israeli troops broke up the protesters by firing shots in the air, as well as teargas and sound bombs. 
      
    Nearly 200 people also marched in the streets of the northern West Bank city of Tulkaram and continued their protest in the nearby village of Jubara, but were prevented by the army from reaching the fence. 

    Jubara is a tiny village which has been cut off from all shops
    and schools by the barrier and now sits isolated between the fence and the Green Line dividing Israel and the West Bank. 
      
    About 300 people also held a protest in the northern town of
    Qalqilya, one of the most affected by the barrier.

    Israel claims the wall is necessary to prevent resistance fighters from entering their territory. But Palestinians fear the wall will demarcate the borders of a future state.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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