Palestinian President Yasser Arafat has asked his prime minister, Ahmed Qureia, to stay on in the job and form a new cabinet by next week.
Mr. Qureia heads an emergency cabinet that was sworn in earlier this month, and had hinted he might not continue in the job once its term expires on November 4. The main reason cited for his apparent reluctance was a dispute with Yasser Arafat over control of the security services.
Key political figures of the dominant Fatah faction have been meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah to iron out differences to allow for the formation of a new Cabinet and bring the political crisis to an end.
Palestinian politics has been in turmoil since the previous prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, resigned in early September after a bitter dispute with Mr. Arafat over security reforms, and in frustration over what he said was Israel's refusal to move forward on the Roadmap peace plan.
Mr. Arafat then selected another long-time associate, legislative Speaker Ahmed Qureia, as prime minister. After initial internal political wrangling, Mr. Qureia agreed to form a temporary emergency cabinet.
Mr. Arafat agreed to appoint a prime minister only under heavy Israeli and American pressure. He has resisted giving up control of the Palestinian security services and sees this as part of an ongoing attempt by Israel and the United States to sideline him. Control of the security forces is key to progress on the internationally backed Roadmap peace plan, which calls for cracking down and dismantling Palestinian militant groups.
Mr. Qureia has made it clear he wants to engage the militants in a dialogue and work out a truce instead of risking open conflict by using force against them.