Qurei replaced Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), who resigned in September over differences with Arafat and frustration at the moribund peace process. Qurei’s strength is his closeness to Arafat. However, they have clashed over control of the Palestinian security forces and the politically-charged appointment of an interior minister.

The flipside of Qurei’s strong relationship with Arafat is US and Israeli scepticism about his commitment to peace. President Bush again expressed disappointment at Abbas’ downfall and doubts about the new leadership on 28 October: ‘Unfortunately he [Abbas] is no longer in power. He was eased out of power, and I do not see the same commitment from the old guard to fight terror.’