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"Ahmad Qurei" - Abu 'Alaa: A Brief Political Profile of the Nominated Palestinian Prime Minister

By Y. Yehoshua and B. Chernitsky

On September 7, 2003, the Central Council of the Fatah Movement and the no Executive Committee approved the appointment of Palestinian Legislative Council Chairman "Ahmad Qurei", also known as Abu 'Alaa, to the post of Palestinian prime minister.

Abu Alaa's appointment came days after the resignation of Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) in the wake of severe internal disputes within Fatah. Unlike Abu Mazen's appointment, which followed external pressure and was resented by Yasser Arafat, Abu Alaa's appointment was Arafat's choice. The following is a brief political profile of Abu 'Alaa focusing on his positions regarding the conflict with Israel, the peace process, and final status issues:

The Political Process - The Oslo Accords Abu 'Alaa, one of the architects of the Oslo accords, believes that "the first Intifada is the one that brought Oslo, and this is an important and great accomplishment since it brought achievements without us giving anything in return." Despite the Al-Aqsa Intifada, he explained, the Oslo accords are still relevant: "The flaw is not in Oslo but in the Israeli policy that is incapable of implementing Oslo and therefore cannot comply with U.N. resolutions..."

"Oslo is not dead and it is not ended, because if it were dead or ended, all trace of it would have disappeared. It is true that Israel is trying, and has a"Oslo is not dead and it is not ended, because if it were dead or ended, allready tried in the past, to evade all its obligations, but it [Oslo] still is a source of authority and a basis, and still exists and influences Palestinian Israeli relations, despite Israel's aggression and violations."

Camp David and the Clinton Plan As a member of the Palestinian negotiating team, Abu 'Alaa discussed the July 2000 Camp David summit on numerous occasions In an interview with the PA daily Al-Ayyam, Abu 'Alaa said: "No new Israeli position was presented at the Camp David negotiations. On the contrary; the same unacceptable positions presented in [previous] negotiations were presented [again]."

According to a report by the Omani daily Al-Watan, Abu 'Alaa asserted that he would not agree to what the Israelis proposed at Camp David with the understanding of the Americans "even if it were to be proposed in another 100 years from today, because what is required is a comprehensive and viable peace agreement that provides stability and security for both peoples equally... Barak wanted to reach an agreement with the Palestinians and look like a hero to his people.

But his proposals were in no way sufficient for achieving such an agreement. He had illusions that inviting President Arafat to [such] a summit would make him and the Palestinian leadership accept what was offered to them. This did not happen and will not happen."

The Final Status Issues - The Permanent Settlement of the Jerusalem Issue According to Abu 'Alaa, east Jerusalem as a whole, and Al-Haram Al-Sharif in particular - the area of the mosques on the Temple Mount - must be under sole Palestinian sovereignty: "Jerusalem is the most important cause for the Palestinian leadership," he said, "and there can be no peace without Jerusalem, whose return [to the Palestinians] was explicitly mentioned in the international resolutions." He further said, "The Israeli government and its officials must know that the Palestinian state, in the eyes of all the Palestinians in the West Bank, the [Gaza] Strip, and the Diaspora - is Jerusalem. The state means Jerusalem, and a state of which Jerusalem is not the capital will not be a state."

East Jerusalem, according to Abu 'Alaa, must be under Palestinian sovereignty and must include Jewish neighborhoods too, such as French Hill and Ramat Eshkol. "When Jerusalem comes up for discussion," he asserted, "the Palestinian side will discuss the Palestinian assets in west Jerusalem, such as Ein Kerem."

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