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Arafat Refuses to Accept Palestinian Prime Minister's Resignation - 2004-07-17


Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia tried to resign Saturday, following an upheaval in the ranks of security forces in the Gaza Strip, but Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat refused to allow Mr. Qureia to step down.

Palestinian lawmakers meeting in a crisis atmosphere in the West Bank at Ramallah say Mr. Qureia offered his resignation just after Mr. Arafat announced that he was replacing two top security officials -- the Palestinians' national security chief and national police chief. The Palestinian Authority's splintered security forces also are to be reorganized - a key international demand for reform.

Mr. Qureia has been in office since September. He replaced the first prime minister of the Palestinian government, Mahmoud Abbas, who quit after just four months on the job.

Saturday's rapid-fire political developments followed a series of kidnappings in Gaza, reportedly carried out by militants demanding anti-corruption reforms that Mr. Arafat has long resisted.

Mr. Quereia called his Cabinet into emergency session following Friday's abductions, and extra police were deployed around government buildings.

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