arafat wants a powerless prime minister

  1. 5,748 Posts.
    Mar. 8, 2003
    Arafat wants a powerless prime minister, Fatah official tells Post
    By KHALED ABU TOAMEH (not Jewish)

    Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat was hoping to appoint a technocrat with no political power to the job of prime minister, but leaders of his Fatah movement forced him to name top PLO official Mahmoud Abbas instead.

    Hatem Abdel Kader, a member of the Fatah Higher Committee in the West Bank who participated in a series of meetings with Arafat over the past few weeks, told The Jerusalem Post that the Palestinian leader was strongly opposed to the appointment of an influential and widely respected figure like Abbas, who is also known as Abu Mazen.

    "Arafat feels that he has been coerced by the international community to appoint a prime minister," he explained. "That's why he wanted to name someone who is a zero. A zero in the post of prime minister would never threaten Arafat's status because zero plus zero is still zero. Arafat didn't want someone with a political and historical dimension like Abbas."

    Abdel Kader added that Arafat's refusal to share power with a prime minister is not new. "He has been categorically opposed to the idea from the beginning," he said. "Arafat's argument is that as chairman of the Palestinian Authority, he is already carrying out the duties of prime minister, and that's why there's no room for another prime minister. Arafat regarded the demands to appoint a prime minister as an attempt to eliminate his political and functional role by pulling the rug from under his feet."

    Abdel Kader, who is also a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, was among the first in Fatah to call on Arafat to appoint a prime minister who would run the day-to-day affairs of the Palestinians. He said that the Fatah request demand came long before the US and Israel started talking about the need to curtail Arafat's authorities by appointing a prime minister.

    When Abdel Kader and his colleagues asked Arafat how come he suddenly agreed to appoint a prime minister, the PA chairman told them that he could no longer stave off the pressure from the US and the EU. "He said he didn't want to give them any excuses," Abdel Kader said. "Arafat said he bowed to the pressure in return for assurances that Israel would not take advantage of the war in Iraq to open a new front with the Palestinians."

    Abdel Kader said there is no avoiding the fact that Arafat's decision to name a prime minister came as a direct result of pressure from Israel and the US. "That's fine with Fatah, but we don't agree on the objective. Our position in Fatah is that the Palestinians need a prime minister who would implement reforms. But they [Israel and the US] want someone who would make political concessions. That's why Fatah insisted that the prime minister be one of ours, from our own 'tribe,' and not just another technocrat or a businessman. We don't want a Palestinian Rakif al Hariri [the wealthy businessman who is prime minister of Lebanon]."

    He added: "We don't want political change. We want administrative changes and reforms. We want a new system that is a combination of a parliamentary system and a presidential system. We want a partner for Arafat, not someone who would replace him and not someone who would be his employee."

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    (Snooker........Should have named his wife then?

 
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