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Palestine Crisis Arafat Urges Restraint From Fatah


Arafat Urges Restraint, Qurei’s Cabinet to Discuss Security Measures


Dahlan Denies Criticizing Palestinian President

Arafat Urges Restraint, PNA Cabinet to Take Measures
President Yaser Arafat chaired two separate meetings of the National Security Council (NSC) and the Fatah Central Committee on Sunday as the cabinet of Prime Minister Ahamd Qurei was scheduled to discuss measures to control a deteriorating security situation on the ground in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories on Monday.

Meanwhile, former cabinet minister and security chief Mohammad Dahlan denied that he had given any media interviews recently criticizing President Arafat and confirmed that the Palestinian leader remains the “symbol” of the Palestinian people.

An explosion in a prison in Gaza City Sunday, which reportedly killed one person and injured nine inmates, three of them seriously, was the latest sign of the deterioration of Palestinian security.

The explosion was heard Monday morning as it ripped through a room in Gaza City’s central prison in the main headquarters of the Palestinian public security service known as al-Saraya.

The prisoners are reportedly convicted by the Palestine National Authority (PNA) for being collaborators with the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF).

In Nablus on Sunday about twenty gunmen fired into the air as a show of strength outside a Fatah meeting.

A Fatah conference of about 70 legislators and senior Fatah officials was convened to discuss reform in the PNA and to call for elections to the Fatah leadership committees, which have not been held for 15 years.

No one was injured, but the meeting broke up. The gunmen identified themselves as members of the Al Awda Brigades.

A purported letter to Arafat drafted by conference delegates denounced the lawlessness in the territories and corruption in the PNA, wires reported.

“President Arafat, this might be the last chance for reforming our situation before reaching the end. We need a revolution within our Fatah movement,” the letter was quoted as saying.

On Friday, three foreigners were also briefly held hostage in Nablus.

Early Saturday, armed men set fire to a government building in the northern West Bank town of Jenin. Around 5,000 people also took to the streets of Jenin calling for Palestinian reforms.

Arafat Urges Restraint, PNA Cabinet to Take Measures

President Arafat chaired a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC), attended also by PM Ahmad Qurei, and a meeting of Fatah Central Committee in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Sunday.

Arafat, from his besieged headquarters in Ramallah, called for restraint and urged officials in the Jenin province to put an end to the current crisis ensued after the office of the general intelligence services was burnt. He also called on them to use dialogue.

Qadoura Mousa, the newly-appointed governor of Jenin said that President Arafat made a phone call to him, urging restraint, logic and patience.

The Palestinian Council of Ministers (cabinet) was scheduled to hold a meeting in Ramallah Monday to discuss the required measures to impose the rule of law and public order in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Ahmad Qurei’s chief of staff Hasan Abu Libdeh said.

“The weekly cabinet meeting will discuss the measures required to control the situation and to impose public order and the rule of law… to confirm that the PNA is the sole authority, and to provide security for the citizens,” he told Al-Ayyam daily on Sunday.

A Palestinian cabinet reshuffle might take place in the coming six to 10 weeks, Abu Libdeh also said.

Qurei Warns against Chaos Spreading to West Bank

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Qurei said it was vital for Palestinians to unite to prevent the kind of chaos seen in Gaza in July - which had led him to submit his resignation - from spreading to the West Bank.

“We, the Palestinian people, must stand united in condemning this chaos in the same manner that we deterred the chaos that took place in Gaza,” he said in an interview published in Sunday’s Al-Quds daily.

“If this chaos reaches the West Bank, then we will be on the verge of an unprecedented and unacceptable disaster,” he warned.

Similarly, negotiations minister Saeb Erakat said that the “chaos” was undermining the Palestinian cause.

“We need to maintain and protect our national unity and we need to work out solutions to all problems through national dialogue involving everybody under the rule of law,” he told AFP.

Earlier, Hasan Abu Libdeh voiced similar concerns that the intra-Palestinian fighting in the Gaza Strip would spill over into the West Bank and said the situation was very dangerous.

“What happened is very dangerous. No Palestinian has the right to carry out such actions, especially kidnapping foreigners who come to help our people and show sympathy with us,” he added. “What is happening will eventually lead to the isolation of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian cause.”

Abu Libdeh also expressed hope that the various PNA security organizations would be able to protect their installations and put an end to the state of chaos and lawlessness.

Dahlan Denies Media Interviews Critical of Arafat

Separately, former Palestinian cabinet minister and security chief Mohammad Dahlan denied that he had given any media interviews recently criticizing President Arafat, Al-Quds daily reported Monday.

Stating that he is not responsible for any media interviews made “on my behalf or in my name or by so-called ‘sources close to Dahlan’,” he confirmed that: “I will not give an interview to a Kuwaiti newspaper …because there is a misunderstanding between the Palestinian people and the Kuwaiti government,” he said.

“The situation in Palestine can no longer tolerate corruption, and reforms decreed by Arafat should be implemented,” Dahlan, who has denied being behind last month’s unrest in the Gaza Strip, reportedly told the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Watan.

If these reforms are not implemented by August 10, “huge protests numbering 30,000 Palestinians will take to the streets of the Gaza Strip,” Dahlan was reported to have said to the Kuwaiti daily.

“Arafat has the key to the stability of the internal Palestinian situation … and we will be assistants to him.”

However, the Israeli occupation and the Palestinian corruption “are two faces of the same coin,” he said.

Dahlan served as former Internal Security Affairs minister in the Palestinian cabinet of ex-premier Mahmud Abbas. He was previously head of the Preventive Security Force in the Gaza Strip, with the rank of colonel. His political foes accuse him of corruption too.

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