Arafat tinkers with cabinet

02 November 2002

The Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) on 29 October endorsed the new Palestinian cabinet by 56 votes to 18, amid criticism from some members of the failure to make more extensive changes. The most significant new appointment is Hani al-Hassan, a senior Fatah member now made Interior Minister in place of Adbelrazak Yehiya. All the other leading figures of the Palestinian Authority (PA) cabinet retained their positions. The last cabinet was dissolved before an expected defeat in a PLC vote of no confidence.

Al-Hassan, who will be charged with reforming the oft-criticised security services, has been a member of the Fatah Central Committee since 1980 and head of the Fatah Foreign Relations Department since 1995. While Al-Hassan has a reputation as a reformer, his appointment is a blow to those demanding a radical overhaul of the PA. His predecessor was seen by the US and Israel as more committed to sweeping reforms.

The other incoming ministers are Zuheir al-Sourani, who takes the justice portfolio, Ahmad al-Shibi as Health Minister, Hisham Abdelrazek as Prisoners' Affairs Minister and Samir Ghosheh as Jerusalem Affairs Minister. Abdelrazek, is a senior Fatah member, while all three other newcomers have experience in government posts.

The ministries of youth and sport, telecommunications and civil affairs were dissolved.

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