Tuesday, Aug 26, 2003
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Brig. Gen. Jibril Rajoub, a former security chief in the West Bank who had good relations with the United States and Israel, said on Monday he accepted the post. Mr. Arafat and the Prime Minister, Mahmoud Abbas, have been clashing over Mr. Arafat's refusal to relinquish control over security forces.
Mr. Abbas and his security chief, Mohammed Dahlan, have said they need control over all security forces to confront militants, a key demand in a U.S.-backed peace plan that envisions Palestinian statehood by 2005.
The United States has pressed for Arafat to relinquish control of the security forces, making a rare plea to the 74-year-old leader following a deadly suicide bombing in Jerusalem last week. The Hamas bombing killed 21 bus riders, including five Americans.
Rather than give into the demand, Mr. Arafat turned to Mr. Rajoub, whom he fired from his role as West Bank security chief in July 2002 after an argument. At the time, Mr. Arafat tried to punch Mr. Rajoub and pointed his pistol at him. But Mr. Rajoub and Mr. Dahlan are also adversaries and it appears Mr. Arafat is trying to use Mr. Rajoub in his campaign to undermine Mr. Abbas' fledgling government.
Asked if he will start cracking down on militants in his new role, Mr. Rajoub told The Associated Press: ``Lets wait and see. We're still starting up. A national security council will be formed under the leadership of Arafat and it will oversee the reform of the security forces and its leadership and it will oversee the cooperation with the Quartet,'' Mr. Rajoub said, referring to the four bodies the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia overseeing implementation of the so-called ``road map'' peace plan.
Mr. Rajoub said he and Mr. Dahlan would be equal members of the national security council and would share authority, as would other members. Mr. Abbas' office refused to comment on the newest appointment, apparently waiting to see whether Mr. Arafat was trying to reassert his authority through Mr. Rajoub.
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