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March 17, 2003

Arafat suffers defeat

This breaking news article indicates Arafat unable to get the tight control he wanted
YASSER Arafat has suffered defeat in the Palestinian parliament, with legislators rejecting his demand that a Cabinet formed by a future prime minister be "presented" to the Palestinian leader.

In a show of hands, legislators voted 49 to 22 against the amendment to the prime minister's bill, one of several changes proposed by Arafat. The vote raised the possibility of delay in installing a credible prime minister - a precondition cited last week by US President George W Bush last week for unveiling a US-backed "road map" to Palestinian statehood by 2005.

Arafat would have needed a two-thirds majority in the 88-member parliament to get the amendments approved - or the parliament would have had to reject the proposed changes by two-thirds to force Arafat to sign the legislation into law.

He and parliament will now have to try to reach a compromise - a possibly time-consuming process.

Legislators remained divided over whether Arafat proposed the changes to try to weaken the new prime minister or was simply seeking minor procedural changes.[more]