Palestinian PM nominee outlines key provisos

Palestinian prime minister nominee, Ahmed Qureia, says he will take up the post if and only if he receives the approval of the “quartet” of players backing the “road map” for peace in the Middle East and Israel pledges to halt its military crackdown.

The quartet includes the US, Europe, Europe and Russia.

Mr Qureia was nominated by Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.

The Bush administration refuses to play ball with Mr Arafat and his acolytes.

Mr Arafat is still perceived as an advocate of terrorism.

Part of the road map entails the dismantling of militant groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

The peace plan sets out the conditions for the establishment of a Palestinian state in 2005.

On Saturday, reformist PM Mahmoud Abbas left office after a make or break showdown with Mr Arafat over the pivotal issue of who controls the security forces in the Gaza Strip.

The impasse proved insurmountable.

65-year old Qureia, the Palestinian parliamentary speaker, said he wanted guarantees from the US and Europe that pressure would be exerted on Israel to halt further tit-for-tat reprisals following the horrific Jerusalem bus bombing in August.

With Israel’s refusal to work with Mr Arafat in mind, Mr Qureia said: “I don’t want failure.

“It’s the Israeli government that brought down the previous government.

“I want to see that the Israelis will change the way of dealing with Yasser Arafat, the elected president, because I cannot go without his support.”

Despite repeated calls for an end to the construction of Jewish settlements and outposts on the Gaza Strip, Mr Abbas failed to convince Israel to move quickly on the issue.

But a spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said Qureia would “get all support from the European Union.”

Moderate Qureia is highly regarded as a negotiator and played a significant role in the 1993 interim Oslo peace accords with Israel.

Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom called on Sunday for the immediate expulsion of Mr Arafat from the Palestinian territories.

“As long as Arafat is in the region, he won’t let any other leader develop,” Mr Shalom said.

Mr Qureia’s appointment requires the approval of the Palestinian parliament.