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Qurei Ends Government Standoff by Withdrawing Resignation

The decision mends the fracture within the Palestinian National Authority, and ends a two-week deadlock over who controls Palestinian security and intelligence forces.

The more powerful Palestinian security bodies, the intelligence and national security services, remain firmly under Arafat’s control.

Qurei’s Chief of Staff Hassan Abu Lebda stated that Qurei is completely supported by Arafat, and many ministerial changes are expected to occur in the near future.

“They agreed that the interior minister will have certain tasks and authorities regarding interior security,” Abu Lebda said.

Qurei tendered his resignation in frustration ten days ago, over a marked increase in “chaos and lawlessness.” Gaza saw a wave of Palestinian fighting and kidnappings as factions of Arafat’s Fatah movement vied for control before Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon carries out a plan to remove Jewish settlements from Gaza by the end of 2005.

The unrest between younger militiamen favoring sweeping reforms, and the old guard of Arafat loyalists led to a state of emergency in Gaza.

Qurei made clear his decision to rescind his resignation would depend on Arafat’s willingness to cede security powers.

“President Arafat has demonstrated his confidence in me by rejecting my resignation. I value this confidence that he has placed in me and I will therefore continue in my role,” Qurei told a news conference at the end of the meeting. “I hope we can now work together.”

A moderate with a history of close ties to Arafat, Qurei has failed to convince Arafat to enact internationally demanded security reforms since he became prime minister last November.

Palestinian security sources, meanwhile claimed that the “ministerial crisis” was finally over and decisions had been adopted regarding separating the authorities as well as implementing modifications and reforms in a number of Palestinian Authority ministries, particularly the Interior Ministry.

“From now on, each official is responsible before the law for his responsibilities and competences,” added Abu Lebda.

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