- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 19, 2003

GAZA, April 20 (UPI) — Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas halted efforts on Saturday to form a new Palestinian cabinet, sources told United Press International.

The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the move by Abu Mazen — as the prime minister is known — followed sharp disputes with both Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and other Palestinian Central Council members.

The PCC of the Palestine Liberation Organization convened in the West Bank town of Ramallah and the meeting was chaired by Arafat. Abu Mazen attended the meeting.

The sources said that during the meeting, Arafat raised several

issues related to forming the new cabinet, and members began to

argue with Abu Mazen, who stormed out and returned home.

The sources said that several members of the PCC followed him and sought to convince him to return to the meeting, but he had refused to go back to Arafat's headquarters. They said he also told PCC members that he didn't want to continue forming the new Palestinian Authority cabinet and threatened to resign. However, Palestinian parliamentary sources denied reports saying that he had actually resigned.

According to these parliamentary sources, Abu Mazen can't just resign unilaterally but must go through legislative measures that involve the Palestinian Legislative Council. They said that Abu Mazen would have to inform the PLC of his inability to form a new cabinet and tender his resignation. At that point, Arafat would appoint a new prime minister.

The sources said that a major problem was that Arafat hadn't given Abu Mazen enough latitude in forming the cabinet and this had worsened relations between the two.

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