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Ironduke
06 Sep 03,, 19:40
Leadership crisis hits Palestinians v

Palestinian officials say their leader Yasser Arafat has accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas - but it is not clear if the decision is final.
Mr Abbas - also known as Abu Mazen - made his offer to stand down on Saturday following a power struggle with Mr Arafat over control of Palestinian security forces.

The BBC's Richard Miron in Ramallah says Mr Abbas has a few weeks left as caretaker prime minister while Mr Arafat finds a replacement - and Mr Abbas could in theory still head a new government.

Addressing more than 80 Palestinian MPs in the West Bank town of Ramallah, "Arafat accepted the prime minister's resignation", said one of those present, Mohammed Hourani.

"Today, we lost an honest prime minister who only wanted to serve his people," he added.

However, Labour Minister Ghassan al-Khatib told Reuters news agency that no final decision had been announced by Mr Arafat.

Mr Abbas was appointed less than four months ago, under international pressure for reform within the Palestinian Authority to try to end the cycle of Palestinian-Israeli violence.

The fragility of the peace plan was underlined on Saturday when the founder and spiritual leader of the militant Hamas movement, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, narrowly escaped an Israeli air strike on Gaza City.

The Palestinians' political disarray combined with this attack has left the US-backed peace plan - known as the roadmap - in a critical condition, our correspondent says.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath told the BBC that the situation was very serious. "We need a third party to step in", he said.

For the US and Israel, Mr Abbas has represented the acceptable face of the Palestinian leadership.


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Israel said it was monitoring developments, but would not accept "control over the Palestinian Authority [reverting] back to Yasser Arafat or one of his loyalists".
US Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge said Mr Abbas had been consistently undermined by elements within the Palestinian Authority, and his departure would delay efforts to get the two sides back to negotiations.

UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the situation had "grave" implications for the peace process.

"It is a further difficulty, a huge tragedy, that the Palestinians should be so divided," he said.

Credibility 'undermined'

Mr Arafat has refused to hand over crucial powers to Mr Abbas, limiting his ability to control militant violence and doing nothing to bolster his standing among ordinary Palestinians.

The prime minister has staked his credibility on successful peace efforts, and the renewed violence has undermined his position, our correspondent says.

In a speech to MPs reviewing his first 100 days in office on Thursday, Mr Abbas publicly admitted rifts with the Palestinian leader.

"Either provide the possibility of strong support for carrying out [the mandate] or you can take it back," he said.

Mr Abbas was appointed prime minister after the US refused to deal with Mr Arafat, describing him as a leader "tainted by terrorism".

Meanwhile, European Union foreign ministers agreed on Saturday to take the first step towards outlawing the political wing of Hamas as a terrorist organisation, diplomats said.

Commenting on the latest political crisis, the EU expressed deep concern at the "serious risk of dangerous instability" at the head of the Palestinian leadership.

The EU, along with the US, the UN and Russia makes up the "quartet" of mediators in the Middle East peace process. Plans have been announced to bring the four parties together for a meeting on 22 September.

http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/39299000/gif/_39299082_arafat_abbas_power3_416inf.gif

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3085810.stm

Leader
07 Sep 03,, 03:27
It's time for Arafat to be removed like the Cancer that he is.

bigross86
07 Sep 03,, 09:58
That option is getting nearer and nearer with the removal of Abu-Mazen. If Arafat doesn't shape up and quickly, he's gonna get exiled, with US approval.

Blackclaw
08 Sep 03,, 18:37
It's very difficult to negotiate with a large mass of people that have no real organization. The Palestinians have at least a half dozen groups clamoring to represent the will of the Palestinian people, none with any real respresentative authority. We might as well try to negotiate with them on an individual basis. :rolleyes: