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Arafat Extends Emergency Cabinet

Palestinian President Yasser Arafat has extended the life of his emergency cabinet after failing to reach agreement on the formation of a new government. The one month term of the emergency cabinet is due to expire at midnight.

Mr. Arafat's decision was made during a continuing power struggle that has delayed the formation of a new cabinet.

Despite a month of negotiation on the issue, Mr. Arafat and his Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia are still locked in a disagreement over who should serve in the key post of interior minister. The position includes responsibility for some of the Palestinian security forces.

Mr. Qureia supports the appointment of former top Palestinian police commander, Nasser Yousef, who is demanding that all of the security organizations be placed under his control. Mr. Yousef's selection is opposed by Mr. Arafat, who wants to retain authority over key Palestinian security forces.

In the absence of any agreement on the issue, a spokesman for Mr. Arafat says Mr. Qureia had been asked to continue serving as the head of an emergency government. The spokesman says the current Cabinet will serve in what he called a caretaker capacity until a new government is formed.

The announcement was made just hours before the mandate of the current emergency cabinet was due to run out.

Mr. Qureia says he expects to be able to present a new government to the parliament by next week. But he acknowledged that the issue of control over the security forces has not been resolved.