Qurie ends standoff with Arafat

Qurie’s announcement, which came 10 days after he tendered his resignation, followed extensive mediation by MPs who said they had secured an agreement by Arafat to implement reforms and crack down on corruption.

“President Arafat demonstrated his confidence in me by rejecting my resignation. I value this confidence that he has placed in me and I will therefore continue in my role,” Qurie said.

“I hope that we can now work together,” the premier added after a meeting of the Palestinian cabinet in Ramallah.

Qurie resigned as PM after a spate of kidnappings in Gaza, including that of the Palestinian police chief.

But Arafat refused to accept the resignation and mediators tried to persuade the two men to resolve their differences.

“He agreed to publish an order to investigate any corruption file which is brought to him by our committee,” one of the mediating MPs, Mohammed Horani, said.

Palestinian observers warned however that the reconciliation may not mark an end to the political and security crisis.

“Today is not the end of the crisis. It’s just a pause until real changes happen. If they don’t, the crisis will erupt again. It is just a matter of time,” said Ali Jarbawi.

Qurie had become increasingly frustrated at Arafat’s reluctance to loosen his grip on the control of the security services and at the lack of institutional reforms.

Although Arafat slashed the number of security services to three from eight this time around, the move backfired when he promoted his unpopular cousin Musa Arafat as head of general security — only to demote him after violent protests in Gaza.

Arafat has come under increasing international pressure to yield more power to Qurie, with the European Union’s top diplomat Javier Solana warning last week that there would be a rethink of the relationship with the 75-year-old leader if Qurie stepped down.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell said Tuesday he wanted to see action from the Palestinians over reforms.

“We need action, not propositions, not proposals, not commitments,” Powell said.

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