Amid internal crisis: Palestinian Prime Minister, emergency cabinet sworn in

Published October 7th, 2003 - 02:00 GMT

Palestinian President Yasser Arafat swore in new Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala) and a skeleton emergency cabinet on Tuesday amidst a dispute between Arafat and two of the minister-designates. 


Nasser Yousef, who had been tapped to be Minister of Interior, and Jawad Tibi, the designated Minister of Health, refused to take part in the swearing-in ceremony in front of Arafat due to a dispute over the scope of their authority.  


Arafat swore in the other six ministers during a quiet ceremony in his compound in the West Bank city of Ramallah.  


As aforesaid, Yousef and Tibi did not arrive at to Arafat's Ramallah offices at all, Palestinian sources said. They said Yousef refused to be sworn in due to a conflict over 

his authority in the Palestinian interior ministry and over Arafat's intention to appoint three aides in charge of the security services, which Arafat would ultimately control.  


According to Arafat's plan, the three aides would be responsible for general intelligence, national security and interior ministry services - which include the preventative security services, police and civilian defense. 


The plan calls for two of the security services - Force 17 and military intelligence - to remain accountable to Arafat.  


The refusal of Yousef and Tibi to be sworn in to the cabinet complicates the formation of a Palestinian government and Qurei's attempt to present a cabinet able to control the Palestinian street.  


Arafat declared a state of emergency in the Palestinian areas and abruptly named the eight-member cabinet on Sunday night, a day after the Haifa suicide bombing.  


The emergency government will serve for a limited term of a month, with a possible one-month extension if two-thirds of Palestinian legislators back the idea. Qurei could also present a full-sized cabinet to parliament within a month.  


"These circumstances that we go through require us as a people and as a nation to rise to the challenges. May God be with you and help you Abu Ala," Arafat told Qurei.  


Arafat then wished the cabinet the best of luck and success in its work.  


Speaking after Arafat's announcement Sunday, Qurei said three portfolios in the emergency Cabinet were assigned - Nabil Shaath as foreign minister, Salam Fayad as finance minister and Yousef was to be interior minister.  


Qurei added that the other five members of the Cabinet would be Saeb Erekat, the current chief negotiator; Nabil Abu Hummus, the current education minister; Jamal Shobaki, the current minister of local affairs; and two legislators from Arafat's Fatah movement, Abdel Rahman Hamad and Tibi. (

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