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Palestinian PM Abbas Threatens to Quit
VOA News
09 Jul 2003, 09:35 UTC

Senior Palestinian officials say Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas has threatened to quit over internal criticism of his handling of peace negotiations with Israel.

They say Mr. Abbas has offered to step down if he disagrees with ideas to be put forward by Palestinian President Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement on how to handle contacts with Israel. Mr. Abbas resigned Tuesday from a key post on Fatah's Central Committee, but Fatah has not accepted the resignation.

Monday, Fatah officials criticized Mr. Abbas for not taking a tougher stance with Israel on the issue of Palestinian prisoners. Hard-line Fatah members are dissatisfied with Israel's plans to release only about 400 of the 6,000 Palestinians in Israeli custody.

Palestinian militants are demanding Israel free all Palestinian prisoners in exchange for their pledge not to attack Israeli targets. The White House says Mr. Abbas is working hard to meet his responsibilities. A spokesman for President Bush, who is currently touring Africa, told reporters Wednesday, Mr. Bush has confidence in the leadership of the Palestinian prime minister.

Meanwhile, Israeli troops shot and killed a Palestinian man Wednesday, during an operation in the West Bank to arrest his brother, who the Israeli military says is a wanted militant. Israel says soldiers opened fire after being shot at during the operation in the city of Jenin.

The Jenin branch of the militant group Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for an attack Monday that killed a 65-year-old Israeli woman in her home north of Tel Aviv.

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