Ramallah, Sept. 7 (Reuters): Palestinian President Yasser Arafat told his Fatah faction in a closed-door meeting today that he wanted parliamentary speaker Ahmed Korei as his next Prime Minister, a senior Palestinian official said.
“Arafat has told the Fatah leadership that he nominates Abu Ala to form a new government,” the official said using Korei’s nickname.
Mahmoud Abbas, named by Arafat as Prime Minister in April under US pressure, resigned yesterday after losing a bitter power struggle with the Palestinian leader. Arafat has not yet formerly accepted Abbas’ resignation.
Arafat’s decision to nominate Korei still needs to be approved by the ruling bodies of Fatah and the Palestine Liberation Organisation, the official said.
Korei and his aides were unavailable for comment, but officials who attended the Fatah meeting said he had made no response to Arafat’s proposal.
Korei was one of the architects of the Oslo peace accords between Israel and the PLO signed in September 1993. He is known as a moderate and has served as speaker of the Palestinian parliament since 1996.
Abbas’ resignation was a blow to a US-backed peace plan that maps out reciprocal steps to end three years of violence and paves the way to the establishment of a Palestinian state by 2005.
Abbas told a closed session with parliamentarians yesterday that he had quit in frustration at Arafat’s refusal to cede security powers — needed to curb violence — and over “harsh, dangerous incitement” against him by militants, some loyal to Arafat. He also cited what he called Israel’s failure to carry out road map obligations, including ending incursions and blockades in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and a lack of US pressure on the Jewish state to honour them.
Arafat appointed Abbas, who lacks an independent power base, as Prime Minister in April after intense international pressure for reforms in the Palestinian Authority.
Asked whether he would accept the post again, Abbas Said in Ramallah: “It’s very premature to talk about this right now. My resignation is final.”
Israel quickly ruled out any talks with the Palestinian leadership if it were controlled by Arafat.
But top officials went a step further today, saying Israel should deport the former guerrilla leader from the Palestinian territories. “I think Arafat’s expulsion is an inevitable result after years of involvement in terrorism,” foreign minister Silvan Shalom told Israel Radio.