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Palestinian Legislative Council to Approve New PM - 2003-03-10

The Palestinian Legislative Council meets Monday to approve the appointment of Mahmoud Abbas as prime minister of the Palestinian Authority. The council must still decide on the powers and authority the new prime minister will have.

Many issues remain to be resolved before a new prime minister takes office. It must approve the creation of the post of prime minister, a change in what is called the Palestinian Basic Law. That will require approval by two-thirds of all the members of the Legislative Council.

And it must also decide what powers the office will have.

Only then will Mahmoud Abbas decide whether he will accept the position. He has made it clear that unless he is able to make the appointments he wants in the new government he will not take the job.

Several proposals have been made on the structure of the new government. One suggests the Egyptian or Jordanian model, which leaves the prime minister little room for appointments on his own, while others have proposed the Lebanese model, which gives both the president and prime minister executive authority in the government.

The debate and negotiations are expected to take several days.

Israel has praised the Abbas nomination as a welcome move toward reforming the Palestinian leadership. He is seen as a moderate who opposes attacks on Israelis.

But Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz also told Army Radio on Sunday that Israeli forces would continue to target all Palestinians involved in attacks on Israelis. He singled out the Islamic resistance movement Hamas as a particular source of such attacks.