Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Arafat's New Cabinet, With Few New Faces, Is Approved
Despite criticism by some reform-minded legislators that provoked angry outbursts from Mr. Arafat, he won the support of council members who had previously contested his appointments and accused his ministers of corruption and incompetence.

The lineup presented by Mr. Arafat strongly resembled the outgoing cabinet, which resigned on Sept. 11 when it faced a no-confidence vote by the legislative council.

Some lawmakers said today that despite lingering reservations about the reshuffled cabinet, their vote reflected a desire to rally around Mr. Arafat after efforts by Israel and the United States to sideline him while pressing for sweeping reforms.

The legislators cited a 10-day Israeli siege of Mr. Arafat's headquarters in Ramallah last month, and a new American blueprint for peace that calls for creation of the position of Palestinian prime minister and makes no mention of elections for president, the post Mr. Arafat holds and is expected to retain in any future vote.

Kadura Faris, a legislator from Mr. Arafat's Fatah faction, said that the message reaching lawmakers from rank-and-file party members was clear. "The president is a target now for the United States and the Israelis, we had a siege against the president and we must make every effort to be together with the president and have a government," Mr. Faris said.