Jibril Rajoub's Men Protest His Removal

A delegation of top officials with the Palestinian Authority's preventive security apparatus met yesterday with PA chairman Yasser Arafat.

Haaretz Staff
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Haaretz Staff

A delegation of top officials with the Palestinian Authority's preventive security apparatus met yesterday with PA chairman Yasser Arafat. The officers asked Arafat not to oust their commander, Jibril Rajoub. If Rajoub's removal cannot be stopped, the delegation said, Jenin Governor Zuheir Manassrah must not be appointed as his replacement. Rather, his successor should come from within the preventive security apparatus, they said.

Arafat promised to consider the delegation's request. Sources in the territories, however, expressed doubts about the likelihood of Arafat reversing his inclination to appoint Manassrah preventive security chief.

Some 500 members of the preventive security apparatus yesterday came to Ramallah, traveling from all parts of the West Bank. They met with their commander Rajoub at his home, near the Ama'ari refugee camp. After meeting with Rajoub, the preventive security men held a press conference at their destroyed staff headquarters in Bituniya.

The officers announced that they will not accept the appointment of a commander who lacks expertise in security matters and demanded that Rajoub's removal be rescinded. Subsequently, members of the preventive security force staged a demonstration at Ramallah's central Manara Square. They held up pictures of Rajoub, and placards declaring that the "reforms in the PA were designed to remove corruption, not brave, loyal warriors."

Rajoub stated yesterday that he accepts the presidential order, signed by Arafat, which calls for his removal. He added that he is being ousted due to intrigues perpetrated by enemies within the PA. On a threatening note, Rajoub declared that "some people will learn soon about the power of the preventive security forces, and about my own power. Preventive intelligence was the Palestinian Authority's, and Yasser Arafat's, spinal cord for years."

PA Labor Minister Ghassan al Khatib said yesterday that "change is normal. It's natural that there are supporters and opponents of any change that is made. But we are used to democracy. There is total accountability with us, and we have no secrets."

Sources in the territories believe that Rajoub's removal is certain, and that Arafat has managed to reorganize the preventive security service. Four months ago, Arafat's aides launched a campaign to delegitimize the service, claiming that Rajoub did not fight Israel's army when it entered Ramallah, and that this surrender led to the capture of Hamas suspects (the Hamas men were held by Rajoub's men before being detained by Israel). These charges further weakened Rajoub's negative image in the territories; Rajoub had for some time been perceived as a figure close to Israel, and a collaborator with Israel.

Preventive security men will stage a pro-Rajoub demonstration in Hebron today.

Jenin camp residents angry with PA officials, aid groups

Residents of the Jenin refugee camp accuse PA officials and international humanitarian organizations of dragging their feet on rebuilding projects. The residents want work to begin immediately on the rebuilding of areas in the camp which were destroyed by Israel Defense Force tanks and soldiers. The residents claim that assistance money promised to them has not arrived. The residents yesterday angrily stormed the UN Relief and Works Agency, and demanded that promised assistance be relayed to them without delay.



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