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Archive for Friday, February 14, 2003

Arafat to share power with prime minister

February 14, 2003

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— Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat plans to announce during a meeting with European negotiators that he will appoint a prime minister to share his powers, fulfilling a key reform demand, Palestinian officials said Thursday.

Palestinian officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Arafat would meet with negotiators today and approve the appointment of a prime minister. After the meeting with European Union negotiator Miguel Moratinos and U.N. envoy Terje Roed-Larsen, Arafat plans a news conference, the officials said.

The EU, along with the United States and Israel, has insisted that Arafat hand over some powers to another leader. Appointing a prime minister to handle day-to-day affairs would be such a measure.

Arafat has also come under pressure from his own people to reform his inefficient and corruption-ridden regime. Israel and the United States refuse to deal with Arafat directly, charging that he encourages attacks against Israel, and have pressed for his replacement.

Until now, Arafat has resisted pressure to appoint a prime minister.

In violence Thursday, Israeli soldiers fired on Palestinians planting a bomb near the Gaza settlement of Netzarim, the military said, but there were conflicting reports about casualties. Israel Radio said three Palestinians were killed.

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