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Palestinian PM promises elections

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmad Qurei’ committed on Monday to hold elections. He made the pledge during a news conference in Ramallah.

The Palestinian Authority Chairman Yassir Arafat had promised general and municipal elections for January of this year, but blamed “Israeli aggression” for the failure to hold democratic elections.

Qurei’ also blamed Israel for hindering routine life in the Palestinian Authorities, and addressed the following issues:

The Palestinian government – Qurei’ said a meeting took place on Monday and they discussed domestic issues such as the continuing Israeli aggression. He added that the Israeli aggression is continuing in the month of Rama’dan, when Palestinian civilians visit their relatives and carry out family obligations. This is prevented, he said, by the occupation forces, which place obstacles for the civilians.

Establishing a ministerial council regarding the separation fence – The Qurei’ government decided to establish a supreme ministerial council that will monitor developments with the separation fence, from all its political and social aspects. He said the fence has no connection to security, but is a racist separation fence. The fence means Israel does not want peace, he said, but rather is intended to oppress the Palestinian people, divide Palestinian lands and create split areas with settlements in their midst.

The Qurei’ government’s priorities – Despite the possibility that this government will not exist for long, it is at present operating as a permanent one. The government has verified its priorities as follows:
1) The fence, the settlements and the isolating of Jerusalem.
2) The elections for the Legislative Council and presidency.
3) A mutual cease-fire. Qurei’ added that “If Israel is prepared for it, then we want it.”
4) Reforms.

The reforms, Qurei’ said, emanate from a Palestinian need, not from international demand. The reforms will be managed directly by the prime minister’s office. Qurei’ said that on Wednesday the government will summon the Supreme Council of Reforms to discuss continuing the reforms process. The council is composed of ministers, members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and experts from different fields.

Security reforms will also be carried out in this framework and a National Security Council has been established for this purpose. Also, a minister of interior with wide-ranging authorities will be appointed at an unspecified time and he will deal with implementing reforms in the security mechanism.

A council for the Rafah situation – An additional council that was recently established is composed of the finance minister and the labor minister. Their job is to provide for the immediate needs of Rafah’s residents.

Talks with the Palestinian factions – Qurei’ said talks with Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah and the other factions are taking place continuously.

Calling on the world to intervene – Qurei’ said words will not do for the Palestinians. They demand a real effort on behalf of the United States, Europe, Russia, the United Nations and the rest of the world to stop the Israeli aggression.

When asked whether he will still be prime minister in a week, Qurei’ responded, “I don’t know, ask me in a week.”