Yasser Arafat called yesterday for an end to the violence between Israel and the Palestinians. He issued his plea as the Palestinian parliament voted to approve a new government, boosting hopes that the appointment of a cabinet headed by the Prime Minister, Ahmed Qureia, will help the long-stalled peace process.
Mr Arafat said: "We do not deny the right of the Israeli people to live in security side-by-side with the Palestinian people ... The time has come for us to get out of this spiral, this destructive war, that will not bring security to you or us." Dore Gold, an adviser to Ariel Sharon, the Israeli Prime Minister, replied: "You cannot hold an olive branch in one hand and a ticking bomb in the other."
The Israelis refuse to deal with Mr Arafat and the onus is on Mr Qureia to try to move the US-backed "road-map" peace plan forward. Mr Qureia said: "To the Israelis, we want peace and security and independence that will not be realised unless we work together. Let's help each other stop this cycle of hell." Yesterday's vote means Mr Qureia has been appointed Prime Minister for a full term. He stepped in to head an emergency government after the resignation of his predecessor, Abu Mazen. Mr Arafat will retain control of most Palestinian security forces. He also got his choice of interior minister in Hakam Balawi.
Meanwhile, a leaked Israeli foreign ministry memo said Israel had been damaged by its failure to dismantle unauthorised settler outposts in the West Bank.Reuse content