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March 10, 2003

Arafat Deal Would Sidestep Key Reforms

In the army, we called chipped beef on toast SOS=same old shit. Here Arafat up to SOS.

Yasser Arafat will retain control of security forces and peace negotiations even after his deputy Mahmoud Abbas is appointed prime minister, a senior Palestinian official said Sunday.

The deal would sidestep key reform demands by Israel and the United States that Arafat hand over authority to a powerful prime minister and retain only a ceremonial role. The two countries have banned their officials from meeting with Arafat, charging that he has not taken steps to stop Palestinian violence.

Arafat made the agreement at a meeting Friday with Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen. Arafat said the Palestine Central Council, a PLO policymaking body, on Sunday approved the appointment of Abbas, whom he called "my brother."

Council head Riad Zanoun said Arafat has the power to appoint and dismiss the premier, whose "duty will be to help President Arafat."

Zanoun added that Abbas would "be in charge of the negotiating file."

Israeli officials were not immediately available for comment[more]