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Palestinian Prime Minister Promises Revised Cabinet

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia has promised to present a revised list of cabinet appointments for approval to parliament by Wednesday. The move defuses a political crisis that was sparked Monday when lawmakers refused to endorse his original government line-up.

Prime Minister Qureia had little choice in the matter since his first list of cabinet appointments caused a furor in parliament, with lawmakers threatening a vote of no-confidence.

Mr. Qureia has now told lawmakers that he will present them with a revised list of cabinet appointments by Wednesday.

He promised the new government would consist of technocrats and experts.

It is a concession likely to be welcomed by many legislative council members since many of them roundly criticized his initial cabinet list for containing the same old names and faces - some of which have been tainted by accusations of corruption.

Palestinian political analyst, Mahdi Abdelhadi of the PASIA research center told VOA the cabinet dispute signals a search for democracy in a post-Arafat era.

"Democracy is deep rooted in the culture of the Palestinian national movement, but it has been contained by the philosophy and the vision and the presence of a historical leader, Yasser Arafat," he said. "With his absence, there is no more icon. There is [the] law and there is [the] constitution and there is equality and people are fighting for democracy through that system."

In the old days appointments were made as a way to reward those close and loyal to Yasser Arafat and to cement political alliances. But, says Mr. Abdelhadi, those days are over and now politicians, including lawmakers, are having to answer a growing public demand for change and better governance.

The stormy legislative dispute over the cabinet is also seen as an effort by lawmakers to better position themselves for legislative elections in July by demonstrating they are listening to public sentiment.

A cabinet made up of new faces and competent technocrats is also vital to the political reforms the international community is demanding of the Palestinians and as such strengthens the position of President Mahmoud Abbas as he talks peace with Israel.