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Arafat Renames Security Chief to Stem Gaza Violence

BY Admin  July 19, 2004 at 3:30 PM EDT

Meanwhile, Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei said Monday he stood by his resignation tendered over the weekend even though Arafat had not yet issued a written response.

“I presented my written resignation to my brother president because of the state of chaos and lawlessness,” Qurei told reporters after a cabinet meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah, according to the Bloomberg news service. “I haven’t received any written response so far, therefore, my resignation is still in effect.”

Qurei said his resignation was prompted by a recent spate of shootouts, arson and the brief kidnappings of four French aid workers, a police chief and another official in Gaza by members of Arafat’s Fatah faction.

Two days of violent protests in Gaza, including militants burning Palestinian government offices Sunday, accompanied calls for Arafat to crack down on corruption and share power with other groups.

In response, Arafat named Abdel Razek al-Majaideh as the new overall director of security for the West Bank and Gaza, rather than his cousin Moussa Arafat, who had been viewed as a symbol of entrenched cronyism, Reuters reported.

An Israeli plan to withdraw from Gaza has led to internal leadership struggles among Palestinians. The infighting is reportedly between a younger generation that carried out the first intifada, or uprising, in the late 1980s and the old guard of Palestinian leaders who returned with Arafat from exile in Tunis after the Oslo accords of 1993, according to The Australian.

Arafat’s cousin is said to embody the old guard, while Mohammed Dahlan, who had served as security chief in Gaza before a falling-out with Arafat, represents the younger faction, though his role during the recent unrest remains unclear.

Also Monday, Israeli Judge Adi Azar was found shot to death in his car near his home outside Tel Aviv. Local media said he was shot at close range in the upper body three times, Reuters reported.

The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed offshoot of Arafat’s Fatah movement, claimed responsibility for the death in a phone call to Reuters in the West Bank.

Israeli investigators, however, said they have not ruled out a local, criminal motive for the attack.