Arafat refuses Qorei resignation

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qorei confirmed on Saturday that he had tendered his resignation to veteran leader Yasser Arafat, an offer that Cabinet ministers said was rejected.

“We discussed the resignation that I gave to President Arafat earlier today and the general security issues,” Qorei said in brief comments to reporters after an emergency Cabinet meeting.

The premier declined to comment on Arafat’s response but Minister without Portfolio Qadura Fares said the resignation had not been accepted.

“Our information is that President Arafat has not accepted it,” Fares told reporters.

Other ministers speaking on condition of anonymity also confirmed that Qorei is still in his post and that he will reconvene his Cabinet for further discussions.

Qorei submitted his resignation in a morning meeting at Arafat’s Muqataa headquarters after a spate of kidnappings in the Gaza Strip that have underlined an escalating crisis in Palestinian security.

But sources said that Arafat had refused to accept the resignation after ordering a major overhaul of the security apparatus.

“Qorei submitted his resignation but Arafat told him to withdraw it when he announced his revamp of the security services,” an MP who is close to Qorei said.

Arafat bowed to international pressure on Saturday, cutting the eight separate security services to three after a total of six people were kidnapped in Gaza on Friday.

It was not immediately clear whether Arafat’s shake-up would be enough to smooth over tensions between the two men.

The three heads of the revamped security apparatus are all close to Arafat, including his nephew Musa who has taken over general security from General Abdel Razzek al-Majeida.

Qorei described the security situation as at “crisis” point.

“There is a mess with security,” he added after the Cabinet meeting.

Qorei’s predecessor, Mahmud Abbas, resigned last September after losing out to Arafat in a battle for control of the security services.

Under the terms of the internationally drafted road-map peace plan, the Palestinians are obliged to crack down on armed factions, but gunmen are increasingly ruling the roost in the territories, especially in Gaza.—Sapa-AFP


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