PLC Members: Council Likely to Reject Makeup of New Cabinet

Israel to ban 12 Gaza Strip council members from Ramallah meeting on Monday; Gaza-based council members to remain in Strip in protest, will be connected by video link.

Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat is to ask a key meeting of the Palestinian Legislative Council on Monday to oppose suicide bombing and to reaffirm their recognition of the state of Israel.

A draft copy of Arafat's speech given to The Associated Press by his office Sunday said the world was waiting for a clear signal that the Palestinians saw peaceful negotiations as the way to resolve their dispute with Israel.

"The Palestinian people is standing against all types of terrorism, whether it is state terror or individual terror," the text said. "The Palestinian Legislative Council has to protect Palestinian national interests through final recognition of the state of Israel and the right of its people to live in peace and security."

It argued that Palestinian bomb attacks gave Israel justification for harsh retaliation. "Suicide attacks against Israeli civilians in buses, restaurants, cafes and universities give the Israeli government the ability to hide its crimes," the draft said.

Earlier Sunday, secretary-general of the PA cabinet, Ahmed Abdel Rahman, told reporters that the Palestinian Authority might review recognition of the state of Israel .

He said that the move was a reaction to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's decision to cancel all signed deals with the Palestinians.

PLC members: council likely to reject makeup of new PA cabinetSeveral members of the Palestinian Legislative Council members, which is due to convene Monday in Ramallah, said Sunday that they expected that the majority of members will vote against the makeup of the new cabinet, which is expected to be sworn in by PA Chairman Yasser Arafat.

The lawmakers were expected to vote on the June cabinet reshuffle after hearing a speech by the Palestinian leader on "national, political and security matters."

Palestinian sources said Sunday that Israel will bar twelve PLC members who live in the Gaza Strip from attending the special council session Monday in the West Bank city.

According to the Palestinian sources, Israel announced that 14 PLC members from Gaza would not be able to reach Ramallah. The ban will affect twelve individuals, as one of the 14, Waji Yahi, died five months ago and another, Ruhi Fatouh, Abu Ala's deputy, is already in Ramallah.

Most of the PLC members whose attendance will be banned are members of Arafat's Fatah movement; two of them are members of Islamic movements, one is a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and two others are not affiliated with any organization.

"This is an illegal step from the Israeli government," said Dr Kamal Al-Shurafi, a parliamentarian linked to Arafat's Fatah group who was blacklisted by Israel.

"The Israelis say we have a link to terror but we don't agree this is terror. This is our responsibility towards our people and we will continue to defend our people's rights."

"We will not surrender to the Israeli dictates. The PLC will go ahead with the session the way we see fit," Nabil Amr, a parliamentarian and former cabinet minister, told Reuters.

The sources said that Israel informed the men they would not be allowed to reach Ramallah, Israel Radio reported.

Army Radio reported that the meeting would take place in Arafat's compound, not in the PLC offices as originally planned, for fear that IDF troops would destroy the compound in Arafat's absence.

Israel announced last week that it would allow the PLC to convene, but without the participation of individuals involved in terrorist activities.

Deputy council head Ibrahim Abu al-Najar told the French news agency that the session would take place as scheduled. Council head Ziad Abu Amar said that 26 PLC members from the Gaza Strip who had been granted permits by Israel to attend the meeting would not do so, in protest over the decision.

"We will not be in Ramallah without our colleagues from Gaza," he said, adding that they would take part in the session using video links. "If we go to Ramallah we will grant legitimacy to the Israeli decision," he said.

Palestinian Authority Parliament Speaker Abu Ala (Ahmed Qureia) said Saturday that PA Chairman Yasser Arafat will deliver a major policy speech and swear in the new Palestinian cabinet at Monday's meeting.

Abu Ala, in remarks published Saturday in the Palestinian daily al-Quds, also called on Israel to allow all democratically-elected representatives to attend the parliamentary meeting and participate in the discussions on reforms and the democratic process.

Yehiyeh: Peres, PA officials to discuss 'Gaza, Bethlehem First' plan TuesdayForeign Minister Shimon Peres will meet senior Palestinian Authority officials Tuesday to discuss implementation of the "Gaza and Bethlehem First" plan, PA Interior Minister Abdel Razak Yehiyeh told the Associated Press on Saturday.

Yehiyeh reiterated his call Sunday for all Palestinian organizations to halt acts of violence against Israelis. His call was published in the Palestinian Authority newspaper Al Ayyam.

"Gaza and Bethlehem First," which has been stalled by violence in the Gaza Strip, calls for a withdrawal of IDF troops from areas in the territories where PA security forces will be responsible for preventing terror attacks.

Yehiyeh also said that the training of the Palestinian security forces would likely get underway in September. The training is part of the PA reforms as demanded by Israel and the United States.

"Training and preparation of a new security apparatus will, I estimate, begin during the course of this month," he said. "That's a beginning."

Yehiyeh said that there's not going to be a new security apparatus but rather a "refresher" course for the already existing security forces.

"It will be training for a group of officers and members in the already existing security apparatuses... since they were not able to get any security or military training over the last two years," he said.d.