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Arafat Agrees to Proposed Cabinet - 2003-04-28

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has agreed to support Prime Minister-designate Mahmoud Abbas’ proposed cabinet, a move that could pave the way for the release of the Bush administration’s “road-map for peace.” Kimberly Russell has the details.

U.S. President George W. Bush has tied the release of his Middle East peace plan to the installation of a new Palestinian government with a strong Prime Minister. The plan envisions a Palestinian state within the next three years.

But Ehud Ulmart, Israel’s Minister of Industry and Trade, said Yasser Arafat will have to stop Palestinians from carrying out terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians.

“He has to fight terror, then the framework, then the understanding between us and the Palestinians will be developed and both sides will have to do certain things, sometimes difficult things.”

In Washington, Jordan’s Foreign Minister Marwan Muashar told reporters he is encouraged by the recent developments regarding the Palestinian leadership. “You have a new government, you have a prime minister with authority. And you have ministers that are authorized with going on with some very serious work, both on security and finance among other things.”

The Palestinian parliament is scheduled to vote on the cabinet appointments on Tuesday. Mr. Abbas said he will not travel abroad to meet with foreign leaders until Israel removes all travel restrictions on Mr. Arafat.

Mr. Abbas is critical of conditions imposed on Mr. Arafat by the Israeli government that have kept the Palestinian leader confined to his compound for more than a year.