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New Palestinian PM to Affirms Intention to Resign - 2003-10-12

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Queira, who took office last week, has announced he is going ahead with his intention to step down from the post. The announcement followed days of bitter fighting with Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.

Mr. Qureia announced that a new Palestinian government would be formed in three weeks, but he said it would also have a new prime minister, because he is quitting the job.

He repeated this message to reporters waiting outside after a meeting with the ruling Fatah Party, the dominant faction in the Palestine Liberation Organization. "The same government will continue until [for] 20-25 days, and after that there will be a new government, with a new prime minister," he said.

Mr. Qureia's decision means he will become the second prime minister in as many months to quit the post amid disputes with Yasser Arafat.

The first Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, resigned last month after failing to wrest control of the security forces from Mr. Arafat. Mr. Qureia is also at odds with Mr. Arafat over who will serve as the minister in charge of security.

Mr. Arafat has demanded that Mr. Qureia oust Nasser Yousef, the man originally selected for the position in the current government. Mr. Yousef refused to be sworn into the post last week until an emergency cabinet appointed by Mr. Arafat had first been approved by the parliament. A furious Mr. Arafat regarded Mr. Yousef's action as a serious act of disloyalty.

Meanwhile, there is also lingering disquiet over Mr. Arafat's cancellation of a sitting of the Palestinian Legislative Council last week, after it became clear that lawmakers intended to vote against the new Cabinet. He angered the legislators by appointing an eight-member cabinet through what he called a special emergency decree.

Some Palestinian lawmakers argue that while Mr. Arafat is entitled to declare a state of emergency, he has no legal power to establish an emergency government.