Fatah approved a new Palestinian Cabinet on Saturday that included several longtime allies of Yasser Arafat.
The incoming Palestinian prime minister, Ahmed Qurei, has given the Arafat-controlled Fatah movement considerable say in forming the Cabinet. Early Saturday, Qurei met with Arafat to review his Cabinet choices before presenting them to Fatah.
Officials from Fatah named 23 ministers to the Cabinet on Saturday. The remaining one to three seats will be filled in coming days, and the Cabinet then will be presented to the Palestinian parliament for approval, Palestinian officials told The AP.
The new Cabinet includes several Arafat supporters, including Yasser Abed Rabbo and Saeb Erekat.
In another sign of Arafat's influence over the process, Maj. Gen. Nasser Yousef, was named to the post of interior minister, putting him in charge of the security forces, Palestinian officials said.
Under the new arrangement, Arafat heads a 12-member national security council that will set policy and work with the interior minister. Yousef has worked with Arafat for nearly four decades. Two ministers with international support, Nabil Shaath and Salam Fayad, kept their jobs as foreign and finance ministers, respectively.
Fatah also named several younger leaders to the Cabinet, including Jawad Tibi, a popular Palestinian lawmaker from the Gaza Strip who is to be health minister.
Meanwhile, the Islamic Jihad has claimed responsibility for Friday's shooting attack in the West Bank settlement of Negohot, in which two Israelis, including a baby girl, were killed and two others lightly wounded, it was reported Sunday.
Palestinian sources said the attacker was 22-year-old Mahmoud Hamdan from the village of Durrah, south of the West Bank city of Hebron. He was released from an Israeli prison two months ago, after serving a 14 month sentence.
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)