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Sunday, 7 July, 2002, 15:15 GMT 16:15 UK
Palestinian sacking sparks more protests
Rajoub supporters in Hebron on Sunday
It is the second day of protests over Rajoub's dismissal
Demonstrations in support of the sacked head of the Palestinian preventive security force in the West Bank have spread to a second city.

Hundreds of Palestinians protested in Hebron in support of the dismissed official, Jibril Rajoub.

Colonel Rajoub - regarded as one of the most powerful figures in Palestinian society - was replaced by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat on Thursday as part of reforms.

The demonstrators - many of them officers from his West Bank force - called for his reinstatement and rejected his successor, former Jenin governor Zuheir al-Manasreh.
Yasser Arafat
Arafat: Under pressure to reform security apparatus

This protest comes a day after several hundred other officers gathered in Ramallah, declaring they would never co-operate with Mr Manasreh.

Colonel Rajoub has told the BBC that the appointment of Mr Manasreh was a mistake, and that it could never work.

He said Mr Arafat had not yet contained the anger over the appointment, but insisted he did not want his old job back.

Diminshing power

Israeli soldiers watched the Hebron protest from nearby hilltops, but did not get involved.

The protest ended at the offices of the Palestinian Legislative Council and the demonstrators left peacefully.

Jibril Rajoub
Rajoub: Regarded as powerful figure
A two-hour meeting between Mr Rajoub's supporters and Mr Arafat on Saturday evening failed to resolve the dispute.

Ahead of the talks, about 200 protesters from Mr Rajoub's force marched up to Mr Arafat's compound in Ramallah, vowing not to recognise Mr Manasreh.

The open challenge to Mr Arafat's authority is, correspondents say, an important rebellion against him and further shows his diminishing power.

Drive for reform

Mr Rajoub, touted by some as a successor to Mr Arafat, said his removal from the preventive security force had not been "personal".

He told the BBC he was not looking for a new appointment himself or a return to his old job.

Mr Manasreh has been trying to play down the anger over Mr Arafat's reshuffle, blaming the media for fanning it.

The Palestinian leader, who has been under pressure to carry out reforms by the US and Israel - has set about purging and re-organising his security apparatus.

He has already reshuffled his cabinet and called presidential elections for January next year.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's James Reynolds reports from Jerusalem
"Mr Rajoub has accepted the decision to sack him"

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