MPs fail to agree on Palestinian cabinet

Attempts to form a new Palestinian cabinet have drawn a blank after a session of parliament was halted amid disputes over the selection of new ministers.

    Ahmad Quraya's limited changes have disappointed some MPs

    Parliament speaker Rawhi Fattuh said on Monday the session would resume on

    Tuesday in the middle of debate which came after Prime Minister Ahmad Quraya unveiled his prospective cabinet line-up and the top priorities of his administration.

    "I regret to inform you that 15 other deputies want to take part in the debate but we do not have time," Fattuh said.

     "As a consequence we will continue tomorrow."

    A senior government official said the vote was being shelved amid continued dispute among deputies from the dominant Fatah faction over the line-up of a new government.


    "There will be no vote today," Tayyib Abd al-Rahim, secretary general of the Palestinian Authority, said in Ram Allah on Monday.


    Approval sealed


    Abd al-Rahim, who is also an MP and a member of the dominant Fatah faction's central committe, added, "The Fatah coalition will meet this evening and will decide whether they will introduce changes (to the cabinet) or vote for this formation.


    Abbas is said to be pushing for a
    more extensive cabinet shake-up

    "The situation is difficult."


    Quraya appeared to have sealed approval for his line-up after heated behind-the-scenes discussions overnight among Fatah chiefs which went on into the early hours of the morning on Monday.


    Fatah sources said the composition of the cabinet had been finally approved after votes were taken on each individual minister in the early hours.


    However, the apparent agreement seemed to have broken down after MPs revolted against Quraya, unhappy with the relatively limited changes to his old administration.


    It is understood that Fatah members and the newly elected Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas had been pushing for a more extensive shake-up.


    New premier?


    Salah Tamari, a Fatah MP and outgoing sports minister, said that it was now time for Abbas to look to a new premier.


    "The right step that should be taken now is for the president to appoint somebody else as prime minister," he said.


    "People had big hopes for Abu Mazin (Abbas), but what is happening today with this formation does not respond to these hopes.


    Tamari added: "What we need is real, substantial change."


    Quraya has vowed to give top
    priority to the security issue

    In his speech to MPs at the beginning of the session, Quraya had stressed that security would top his government's agenda.


    "This government, which I hope is going to receive your vote of confidence, is committed to accomplishing its missions, especially in the fields of security and reforms," Quraya told deputies.


    "The government represented by the minister of interior is committed to according utmost sincerity and seriousness to the issue of security."


    "We are determined to go forward by implementing a programme of reform ... and to reinforce the rule of law," he added.




    Quraya also pledged "to remedy the economic situation, the social problems and unemployment" as he unveiled his list of 23 ministers.


    His list of ministers included several Abbas allies who were to replace some of the late Palestinian Authority President Yasir Arafat's supporters.


    "We are determined to go forward by implementing a programme of reform ... and to reinforce the
    rule of law"

    Ahmad Quraya,
    Palestinian Prime Minister

    The current Palestinian representative to the United Nations, Nasir al-Qidwa, was set to become foreign minister. Nasr Yusuf should be made interior minister, an appointment which was vetoed by Arafat in 2003.


    Abbas's former security minister Muhammed Dahlan, a powerful figure in the Gaza Strip, was also expected to return to government as a minister in the prime minister's office.


    However, Aljazeera correspondent reported that Dahlan had turned down his appointment as minister for cabinet affairs.


    The appointments of Dahlan and Yusuf are seen as crucial in the bid to restore law and order on the streets of the West Bank and Gaza Strip as well as to implement a ceasefire announced by Abbas at the recent summit in Egypt with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.


    Both Abbas and Quraya have made an end to lawlessness one of their top priorities.


    Among those set to leave are interior minister Hakam Balawi and social affairs minister Intisar al-Wazir, who was the wife of Arafat's former number two, the late Khalil al-Wazir, better known as Abu Jihad.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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