Cairo: Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has agreed to comply with an Egyptian demand to empower his prime minister with executive authority, name a new interior minister and drastically change his security apparatus, Egyptian and Palestinian officials said yesterday.
However, the officials said the Egyptians are still looking for assurances that Arafat isn’t just stalling for time and finding a way to keep himself overly involved in running matters.
Arafat’s decision, which came in a letter to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, helps clear the way for Egyptian security assistance in the Gaza Strip once Israel removes Jewish colonies there and returns the volatile area to Palestinian control.
Palestinian officials in Egypt and in the West Bank, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Arafat promised Mubarak that the Palestinian security apparatus would be reorganised into three branches instead of nearly a dozen that Arafat currently controls.
He also agreed to delegate the necessary powers to Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qorei to put him in charge of the Palestinian Authority executive branch, they said.
But the officials, who are familiar with Egyptian-Palestinian contacts as Egypt tries to ensure stability in the Gaza Strip should Israeli forces leave, said Arafat made clear to Mubarak that he will retain overall power as head of the Palestinian Authority.