Fatah lawmakers agree to support new Palestinian cabinet
Fatah lawmakers late Wednesday accepted a Cabinet made up mostly of new figures after Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas called them together and told them not to create a crisis. Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala) has been trying all week to install a new Cabinet. MPs rejected his first list because it mostly included political cronies of the late Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat.
A second lineup dominated by professional appointments wasn't accepted also by legislators. Several said they wanted to push Qurei out and would not support any Cabinet he proposes. Qurei would have to step down if he fails to get his Cabinet approved in coming days.
According to The AP, Abbas summoned legislators from his Fatah party and told them this was no time for an internal political crisis. "The whole world is watching, and we have a lot to do," Fatah legislator Abdel Karim Abu Salah quoted Abbas as telling party lawmakers.
A Palestinian official told the news agency 20 of the 24 ministers are new faces. Among those to lose their jobs are Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath and negotiator Saeb Erekat, he said. A key appointment is ex-general Nasser Yousef as interior minister in charge of security forces. Fatah is the largest party in the Palestinian parliament, which was to convene Thursday to vote on the Cabinet.
Earlier in the day, Palestinian sources assessed Qurei would resign soon.
Late Tuesday, more than two dozen legislators, including many from Fatah, met in a Ramallah hotel and decided not to back the new list, participants said. "The general feeling was that this Cabinet will fall," said Cabinet minister and Fatah legislator Jamal Shobaki, who attended the meeting. "Many said they were not going to vote in favor of the Cabinet."
Nabil Amr, another participant from Fatah, also said Qurei, widely known as Abu Ala, had little chance of getting his Cabinet approved. "Abu Ala will face a very hard situation today," Amr said.
Outgoing Fatah Cabinet minister Kadoura Fares said that if Qurei fails to win parliament approval, he should not try again. Asked if the prime minister will have to be replaced, Fares said: "There's no other choice."
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