Sharon rebuilds new coalition, appoints Mofaz as defense minister; Houses destroyed in Jenin
A Palestinian Authority intelligence officer was killed Thursday morning by Israeli fire in the West Bank, Palestinian sources said. The officer, identified as 37-year-old Iyad Mansur, was killed in the village of Qalil, near Nablus, the sources said.
Elsewhere in the West Bank, Israeli soldiers continued operating in the city of Jenin, rounding up Palestinians.
On Wednesday evening, a Palestinian was shot dead near the West Bank village of Zeta after he fired at a group of Israeli surveyors working on a security fence in the area.
According to Israeli media reports, security guards at a parking lot for tractors near the site killed the Palestinian.
In addition, Israeli troops Thursday demolished four houses belonging to suspected Palestinian activists, bringing to nine the number of houses destroyed in the Jenin refugee camp this past week. Two of the houses destroyed Thursday belonged to suicide bombers and two belonged to activists wanted by Israel for attacks, the military said. The demolitions left at least 50 people homeless, Palestinian sources said.
Meanwhile, the Israeli media reported that Ariel Sharon planned to appoint as defense minister former army chief of staff Shaul Mofaz, who has advocated the expulsion of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat. A Sharon aide, Arnon Perlman, said Thursday that Mofaz has accepted the job.
The Israeli Prime Minister was to begin working on building a new government Thursday in place of the national unity government that ended when Labor Party ministers submitted Wednesday their resignations.
"We did everything (to avert the breakup)," Sharon, head of the rightist Likud party, told a stormy session of parliament on Wednesday night. However, he vowed he would continue leading the country, suggesting he wanted to avoid early elections unless he had no other choice.
The prime minister conveyed he wanted to form "a different government with a different composition."
Israel Radio reported Sharon had started making contacts with the ultranationalist Yisrael Beitenu party, whose seven seats in the 120-member parliament could restore Sharon's majority in the legislature.
Palestinian reaction to the coalition crisis was mixed, with cabinet minister Saeb Erekat terming it "an internal Israeli matter." But Erekat also warned that "if there is a new coalition between the Likud and the right wing in Israel it will also be at the expense of the Palestinian people and against the peace process." (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)