Palestinian parliament backs cabinet

The Palestinian parliament has approved a new government after Prime Minister Ahmad Quraya bowed to lawmakers' demands, bringing in mostly new faces to replace members of Yasir Arafat's old guard.

    Abbas is keen to have the new government quickly in place

    The vote ended a simmering crisis and could help President Mahmud Abbas embark on an overhaul of the corruption-tainted Palestinian Authority, sought by ordinary Palestinians and the US, as he pursues peace efforts with Israel.

     

    It also marked a new chapter in Palestinian politics - the first cabinet not dominated by a circle close to the late Arafat.

     

    Parliament ratified the 24-member cabinet by a vote of 54-12, with four abstentions. With 17 newcomers, the new government appeared to suit Abbas' political needs as he faces a 25-nation meeting on Palestinian reform next week in London.

     

    Delays

     

    Quraya had been forced to delay a vote of confidence in his new government three times this week as he wrangled with reform-minded lawmakers of his dominant Fatah movement.

     

    Nabil Shaath has been named
    deputy prime minister

    They were demanding he bring in more technocrats and professionals and keep fewer politicians seen as vestiges of Arafat's era, which was plagued by corruption and waste.

     

    But Abbas, keen to have a new government before the London conference, stepped in on Wednesday and pressured fellow Fatah members to accept Quraya's revamped lineup.

     

    Failure to win parliamentary approval would have forced Quraya's resignation.

     

    Abbas loyalists

     

    Nasir Yusuf and Muhammad Dahlan, Abbas loyalists chosen to help him clean up the Palestinian Authority and merge its often competing security services, joined the new government.

     

    Quraya managed to retain Arafat ally Nabil Shaath, naming him deputy premier.

     

    Shaath was replaced as foreign minister by Nasir al-Qidwa, the Palestinians' UN envoy and Arafat's nephew. But Quraya had to drop seven Arafat loyalists, including top Palestinian spokesman Saib Uraiqat, from his original list.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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