- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 4, 2002

JERUSALEM Two top Palestinian security chiefs dismissed by Yasser Arafat indicated yesterday they would not go quietly, adding to the upheaval in the Palestinian Authority, which already was confronted by protests over economic conditions.
The two officials, West Bank strongman Jibril Rajoub and Gaza Strip police chief Ghazi Jibali, said they had not received official notification.
"I will not leave my position until I get something official," Mr. Rajoub, head of Preventive Security in the West Bank, said in an interview at his Ramallah home.
Mr. Jibali insisted the reports were "rumors" and there was no sign he was ready to leave his post.
Mr. Arafat had rocky relations with both security chiefs, and the move was viewed as being at least partly related to internal Palestinian politics, rather than a move to reform the security forces.
The dispute came as Israel eased some of the restrictions it imposed on West Bank towns and cities and agreed to allow some Palestinian workers to return to Israel.
Israel and the United States have insisted that the Palestinians must streamline the multiple, overlapping security agencies and use them to prevent terror attacks against Israel.
Israel said it did not view the move as significant. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's spokesman, Raanan Gissin, called it "window dressing."
Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer added, "I hope that the Western world and the Palestinians will understand that the one and only step that will rescue the Palestinians will be if someone gets up and tells Arafat simply, 'Take yourself and move over, and let others lead.'"
Mr. Arafat has given no indication that he will step down, and while many Palestinians have complained about their leaders, Mr. Arafat's position appears solid for now.
In Gaza City, thousands of Palestinians chanted slogans, carried banners and fired guns into the air during a march that expressed support for Mr. Arafat and denounced President Bush's call to replace him.
"We want everyone to know that Yasser Arafat is the only leader for this nation," said Dieb Louh, spokesman for Mr. Arafat's Fatah movement. "We condemn all the American attempts" to replace Mr. Arafat, he said.
In the nearly two weeks since Israeli forces moved into West Bank Palestinian cities to search for militants, the level of violence has dropped markedly. But some 700,000 Palestinians in seven cities and towns have been under curfew, and have been able to leave their homes for only a few hours every third or fourth day to stock up on food.


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