Analysis: Abbas has reason to smile (JERUSALEM POST) By KHALED ABU TOAMEH 01/29/05)
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Egypt has agreed to train 40 Palestinian security officers as
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas announced on Saturday
that he would pursue his efforts to reach a cease- fire with Israel.
Abbas and PA Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath held talks in Cairo on
Saturday with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on efforts to reach an
agreement between all Palestinian factions on a cease- fire.
The two asked Mubarak to put pressure on Israel to release
Palestinian prisoners and halt military raids and settlement
construction to pave the way for the resumption of peace talks. They
also demanded that Egypt play a key security role along its border
with the Gaza Strip after the planned Israeli withdrawal from the
Mubarak agreed to their request to train Palestinian security
officers in Cairo, Shaath told reporters after the meeting.
He said the security officers would head to Egypt next week for
"They (the Egyptians) will implement what has been agreed before. The
training will start immediately, in the first week of February, with
probably 42 officers," he said.
"So things are going well and President Mubarak is very pleased with
our progress," he added.
Shaath said that the redeployment of policemen in various parts of
the Gaza Strip requires better-trained officers.
"We have concluded really the agreement with them but Egypt needs to
support that agreement and continue to monitor and so we are happy
that they are going to do that," he told Reuters.
Shaath also said Egypt will invite representatives of all Palestinian
factions, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, to Cairo in the first
week of February to discuss the cease- fire issue.
He said the factions were "very close to a national agreement" on a
cease-fire with Israel.
Shaath also urged Israel to accept a cease-fire offer, release
Palestinian prisoners, and withdraw from the Palestinian cities in
the West Bank. He said he would travel to Damascus to seek Syria´s
help in convincing Hamas and other radical groups to halt their
attacks against Israel.
Abbas, who headed for Moscow after the meeting with Mubarak, said
that negotiations with Palestinian factions had yet to reach an
agreement on a possible cease-fire.
"We have come a long way, but we still have mutual issues which we
have to continue (discussing) and follow up on them," he said.
Asked whether he had sought Syria´s interference with Damascus-based
Hamas leaders to arrange a cease-fire: "I don´t know. This is an
internal Syrian affair and not our business," Abbas said.
In another development, a senior PA official in Ramallah said that a
new cabinet would be formed in two weeks.
Cabinet Secretary Hasan Abu Libdeh said Abbas and Prime Minister
Ahmad Qurei were close to reaching an agreement on the make-up of the
new cabinet, which will be presented before the Palestinian
Legislative Council for approval.
Sources in Ramallah said Abbas and Qurei agreed to appoint Nasser
Yousef as Interior Minister in charge of all Palestinian security
forces. Yousef, a former security commander, played a key role in a
massive crackdown on Hamas and Islamic Jihad members in the Gaza
Strip in 1996.
He will replace incumbent Interior Minister Hakam Balawi. A source
close to Yousef said that he has prepared a plan to implement major
reforms in the PA security establishment, which includes, among other
things, the appointment of new security commanders.
According to the sources, at least six ministers will be replaced as
part of the cabinet reshuffle.
Legislator Nabil Amr, who is closely associated with Abbas, is
expected to return to his former post as Information Minister. Amr
was shot and seriously injured last July after appearing on TV where
he publicly criticized Yasser Arafat´s performance.
At least 10 people were injured, some seriously, in an armed
confrontation that erupted on Saturday between Hamas and Fatah
supporters in the central Gaza Strip.
Eyewitnesses said the clashes began when hundreds of Hamas supporters
marched in the streets of al- Maghazi to celebrate the movement´s
victory in the local elections. (© 1995-2005, The Jerusalem Post
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