To the Middle East-- the Palestinian Legislature has approved a new cabinet led by Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen. Fifty-one of the 85 members of the legislature voted to support the new cabinet. The United States had promised it would release details of a new Middle East peace plan as soon as the cabinet was approved. Sonja Pace— with more on the vote.
Addressing the legislators, Mahmoud Abbas spoke of the need to establish a modern, democratic government. He warned his administration would not tolerate anyone breaking the law, and he promised to streamline the security services and end the proliferation of illegal weapons.
Mr. Abbas denounced the use of violence and said terrorism only hurts the Palestinian cause. He also said there can be no military solution to the conflict with Israel.
He said the Palestinians want a lasting peace with Israel. But he also repeated long-standing Palestinian demands: Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the removal of Jewish settlements, a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem, and the right of return for Palestinian exiles and refugees.
Mr. Abbas called for the immediate implementation of the roadmap which the Bush administration has promised to unveil within the coming days to try to restart peace negotiations.