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Arafat Appoints New Security Advisor - 2003-08-25

Palestinian President Yasser Arafat appointed a new security adviser in what observers say is a move to prevent his U.S.-backed prime minister from gaining control over the Palestinian police forces.

Mr. Arafat appointed Brigadier General Jibril Rajoub, a former head of the security forces in the West Bank, to oversee operations of the Palestinian police.

Palestinian officials say the appointment is part of Mr. Arafat's efforts to retain full control over security forces.

Mr. Arafat has sparked an internal crisis within the Palestinian Authority by refusing to relinquish his control over the various Palestinian forces that are responsible for law and order.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and his security chief, Mohammed Dahlan, have mounted a challenge to Mr. Arafat's rule, declaring that they need to have responsibility for all security forces to confront the Palestinian militant groups that continue to carry out terror attacks.

Mr. Arafat rejected their appeal and enlisted Mr. Rajoub, who he had fired last year following a heated argument. At the time, the Palestinian president reportedly tried to punch Mr. Rajoub and drew his pistol before being restrained by some of his aides. But the two men appear to have patched up their differences and have found common cause in their opposition to Mr. Dahlan, regarded by Mr. Rajoub as a strong rival.

Mr. Rajoub confirmed he had accepted the position and said a new national security council would be established under the leadership of Mr. Arafat. This body would oversee what he described as the reform of the various Palestinian police forces.

Mr. Rajoub also said his appointment could help heal the rift between Mr. Arafat and Mr. Abbas, rejecting claims that it would only increase tensions within the Palestinian leadership.