Arafat's Group Backs Abbas' New Cabinet
Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement on Monday supported the Cabinet proposed by incoming Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, boosting the team's chances of winning the parliamentary approval required for release of a new peace plan.
If the Cabinet is approved Tuesday, the Palestinians will have cleared the last hurdle toward the unveiling of the internationally sponsored plan. The so-called road map envisions full Palestinian statehood within three years.
President Bush has linked presentation of the plan to Abbas being installed as prime minister.
In West Bank fighting Monday, Israeli troops captured two Palestinians responsible for a suicide bombing in Israel last week and, in a separate incident, killed a 17-year-old gunman while raiding a refugee camp.
The forming of the Palestinian Cabinet was preceded by five weeks of wrangling between Abbas and Palestinian leader Arafat, who has been reluctant to share power. Last week, after intense international pressure, Arafat withdrew some challenges but continues to wield considerable influence because of his control over Fatah, which commands a solid majority in parliament.
On Monday, Fatah's ruling body, the Central Committee, decided to instruct Fatah legislators to support the Cabinet, said Nabil Shaath, the incoming foreign minister and a senior member of the movement.[more]