by: Larry James - Last updated: 2004-07-17
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat
Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia submitted his resignation Saturday, as the security situation in the Gaza Strip worsened with a string of kidnappings. The offer to resign came as Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat ordered a shakeup of the security forces.
The Palestinian prime minister offered his resignation during an emergency Cabinet meeting, called amid concerns about an unraveling security situation in the Gaza Strip. Palestinian Cabinet minister Saeb Erekat told journalists that Mr. Arafat declined to accept the resignation.
The offer to resign came as Mr. Arafat announced he was reorganizing the security apparatus, a key element of international demands for reform within the Palestinian Authority.
Mr. Arafat fired Palestinian Police Chief Ghazi Jabali, who was kidnapped and held for several hours Friday night by militants pressing for reforms.
Palestinian officials said the kidnappers agreed to free him, after being given assurances he would be dismissed and brought up on corruption charges.
Mr. Arafat appointed his cousin, Mousa Arafat al-Qidwe, as the new Palestinian police chief.
All together, two senior Palestinian security officials and four French aid workers were kidnapped in a chaotic Friday night in the Gaza Strip. All have since been released.
The string of kidnappings had earlier led the Palestinian National Security Authority, headed by Mr. Arafat, to declare a state of emergency in Gaza. Extra police were deployed around government buildings in Gaza, and all leave for security personnel was canceled.
On Friday, Gaza's preventive security chief, Rashid Abu Shbak, and the head of general intelligence, Amin Hindi, offered their resignations as well, but Mr. Arafat declined to accept them.
The troubles in Gaza reflect Palestinian frustration with what is seen as widespread corruption within the Palestinian Authority. The problems also reflect a growing disagreement among militants trying to strengthen their positions ahead of a planned Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, which Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says will happen by the end of 2005.
Israeli authorities have announced a ban on travel to the Gaza Strip for all Israeli citizens and permanent residents, including journalists, because of the security situation.
Story supplied by: VOAnews