April 22, 2003

CRANKING THE TORQUE

Blair joins last push for Palestinian cabinet (Conal Urquhart, April 23, 2003, The Guardian)
Tony Blair joined an international push to rescue the Israeli-Palestinian peace process yesterday by urging Yasser Arafat to make every effort to help his prime minister designate, Mahmoud Abbas, form a cabinet.

If an agreed cabinet is not given to the Palestinian legislative council by tonight Mr Arafat will have to nominate another prime minister and the hope of progress to peace will be dashed, for the time being at least.

Mr Blair phoned Mr Arafat at his headquarters in Ramallah and urged him to overcome his differences with Mr Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, whom Mr Arafat appointed prime minister in March.

The main sticking point between Mr Arafat, president of the Palestinian Authority, and his nominee seems to be Mr Abbas's wish to appoint Mohammed Dahlan his head of security.

The European Union's Middle East peace envoy, Miguel Moratinos, and many national governments have also been putting pressure on Mr Arafat.

It is said that when Mr Moratinos told him that the EU would accept no one but Mr Abbas as prime minister, Mr Arafat screamed at him and slammed down the phone.

Mr Arafat has also had calls from Jordan, Egypt, Spain, Germany and the US.

Let's see if the Europeans are willing to walk away from Palestine if Arafat doesn't yield power. Posted by Orrin Judd at April 22, 2003 10:01 PM
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