View Full Version : US demands security from Palestinians

09 Sep 03,, 00:26
US demands security from Palestinians

The United States has said the priority for the new Palestinian prime minister must be to clamp down on militants.
The Palestinian Parliamentary Speaker, Ahmed Qurei, whom Yasser Arafat nominated as premier, has demanded US backing as one of his conditions of taking on the post.

Washington says the appointment is an internal affair, but the US consul general in Jerusalem, who met Mr Qurei on Monday, stressed that America's priority was Palestinian action to take control of the security situation.

Palestinian officials have said that Mr Qurei has accepted the nomination to replace Mahmoud Abbas who resigned at the weekend.

However, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said Mr Qurei himself has made no official announcement so far.

Mr Qurei is a leading member of the mainstream Fatah faction who helped to negotiate the Oslo peace accord with Israel 10 years ago.

Power struggle

"Acting Consul General (Jeffrey) Feltman (made) clear this overriding point that we have made in public, as well as in private, that the Palestinians' prime minister needs to be able to move on security and that is our key interest right now," said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher.

In Washington, Secretary of State Colin Powell, said he expected Mr Qurei to take up the post.

"We have to see what political authority and what security forces will be under the new prime minister, which will permit him to do his job of representing the Palestinian people but also of dealing with the terror that's kept us from moving forward," he said.

Mr Abbas - also known as Abu Mazen - resigned after a protracted power struggle with Yasser Arafat, particularly on the issue of control of the security forces.

As well as Washington's backing, Mr Qurei has been demanding European guarantees of support.

EU spokeswoman Christina Gallach indicated Brussels will back Mr Qurei, saying: "He is a man who believes in peace with Israel and he has done a lot for that. Therefore, he will get all support from the European Union".

Israeli attitude

Mr Qurei also demands a change of attitude from Israel.

"The problem is knowing whether Israel wants to change its hostile attitude," he said earlier on Monday.

"It is whether they want to recognise President Arafat as the legitimate leader of the Palestinian people or not?

"If they [the Israelis] do not want to change their attitude towards us, we do not need a government nor a prime minister."

Mr Qurei also demanded that Israel stop what he called "assassinations" of Palestinian militants.

Israel refers to its strikes as targeted killings - and struck at one of its highest-profile targets ever, the spiritual leader of Hamas, at the weekend.

The target, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, escaped with slight injuries.