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March 09, 2003

Israel Seeks Palestinian PM with Authority

Reuters runs this piece, expressing Israeli concerns about PA ministerial appointment

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel said on Sunday it hoped a powerful Palestinian prime minister would emerge from a decision by Yasser Arafat (news - web sites)'s Palestine Liberation Organization (news - web sites) to establish the post demanded by international peace mediators.

"I hope there will be a prime minister with authority who will lead the Palestinians in another direction," Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said, referring to a 29-month-old uprising for statehood in which more than 2,600 people have been killed.

At the same time, Mofaz said on Israel Radio he would press ahead with an intensive campaign against the militant Islamic group Hamas after an Israeli helicopter strike in Gaza killed one of its founders.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told Reuters the PLO's 122-member Central Council formally decided in a late-night session in the West Bank on Saturday to create the post of prime minister of the Palestinian Authority

Arafat, the Palestinian president, announced the nomination to the post of leading PLO moderate Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen. However, he did not set a date for the appointment or elaborate on his powers.

Abbas, 67, said he first wanted to see what powers he would be granted before accepting the post. A decision to take the job could be a turning point in an uprising he has criticized for its use of attacks on Israelis instead of popular protest.[more]