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The Palestinians this week moved
to appoint a prime minister, a
newly created position that, it is
hoped, will defuse power and
encourage accountability in the
Palestinian Authority. Mahmoud
Abbas is to be the first to hold that
office. He has been a Yasser Arafat
deputy but is said to be more mod-
erate. Will this move bring positive
change and more hope for peace?
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The real test of changes in
Palestinian governance will be
whether the leadership can be trust-
ed and will hold to its word, and if
Palestinian Authority forces will be
used to arrest terrorists and destroy
the terrorist infrastructure.
— Allan Gale, Jewish Community
Council ofMetropolitan Detroit
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itive move in the right. direction."
Beyond the powers Abbas gets, -
much depends on what policies he
pursues, Foreign Minister Silvan
Shalom says. "There are a few things
he can do unconditionally, like stop-
ping terror and incitement."
But that could prove a tall order, as
the challenges Abbas faces are
immense: He will have to survive
Arafat's efforts to clip his wings, he will
have to establish international credibili-
ty the way P.A. Finance Minister Salam
Fayed has done, and he will have to
find a way to stop violence against
Israel if a peace process is to proceed.
That could mean taking on the
Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which reject
any suspension of violence against
One of the reasons Fatah people
pushed for reform of the Palestinian
Authority is they sensed they were los-
ing ground in the Palestinian street to
Hamas. How Abbas goes about restor-
ing Fatah's supremacy could determine
whether or not the intifada finally
Some of Abbas' supporters, former
security chiefs like Mohammad Dahlan
and Jibril Rajoub, may push for a
showdown with Hamas. But taking on
the fundamentalists could be tanta-
mount to Palestinian civil war.
That's why Arafat always avoided it.
Will Abu Mazen? ❑
— JTA correspondent Naomi Segal
contributed to this report.
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