PM Quraya denies resignation threat

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmad Quraya has denied he is considering resigning over a spat with President Yasir Arafat.

    Arafat (L) and Quraya are the PLO's two most senior leaders

    The reports surfaced after a senior Palestinian official said "a heated argument" took place between the pair on

     Saturday following a decision taken by the cabinet to

    make security and financial reforms.

    But Quraya, who met with German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer in Berlin on Tuesday, told reporters: "Resigning? Why? I am here as the prime minister. I am not thinking about that."

    A Palestinian offcial had earlier said that Arafat rejected the cabinet decision and considered it an

    infringement on his powers.

    "But an angry Abu Ala (Quraya) told ministers after his argument with

    Arafat that he wants to resign and that he's thinking of

    quitting because he can't go on like this any more."

    International pressure

    Arafat has come under intense world pressure, especially from the US, to appoint a prime

    minister to fight corruption, pursue peacemaking and carry out

    reforms in the Palestinian Authority.

    If Quraya were to resign it

    could further isolate the veteran leader.

    International aid to the Palestinian Authority has been cut

    in half since 2001 because of its lack of transparency in

    spending donor money.

    "Resigning? Why? I am here (in Berlin) as the prime minister. I am not thinking about that"

    Ahmad Quraya,
    Palestinian prime minister

    But Quraya has been

    walking a tightrope between maintaining a working relationship

    with Arafat and improving ties with Washington.

    Palestinian officials said Arafat, besieged in his battered

    headquarters in the West Bank city of Ram Allah for more than two

    years, has agreed to make some administrative and financial

    reforms, but will not hand over control of security.

    Cabinet reshuffle

    "Quraya is seriously thinking of carrying out a cabinet

    reshuffle which could include changing the interior minister and

    bringing in lawmakers to strengthen his standing in the

    Legislative Council," one senior official said.

    "This could lead to rising tensions with Arafat but it is a

    necessary step to give Quraya a higher margin to manoeuvre to

    advance peace and make reforms."

    Arafat and Quraya are the Palestinian Liberation Organisation's two

    most senior leaders.

    Quraya's main claim to fame, thus far, is his role in the Oslo Peace Accords with Israel in 1993.

    The accords led to limited autonomy for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

    But they failed to lead to the setting up of a viable state, as many Palestinians had hoped.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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