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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 September, 2003, 04:33 GMT 05:33 UK
Arafat nominee pressed on terror
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat (right) with parliamentary speaker Ahmed Qurei
Ahmed Qurei (left) is an Arafat loyalist
Both the United States and Israel have said the priority for the new Palestinian prime minister must be to "fight terrorism".

Secretary of State Colin Powell said the US hoped the new premier would be given "the political authority of the security forces and financial assets needed".

Ahmed Qurei, whom Yasser Arafat nominated to the post, has already made clear he will not accept it without US backing.

However, it is widely believed that he will agree to replace Mahmoud Abbas who resigned at the weekend.

A man who believes in peace with Israel
European Union

Mr Qurei, the speaker of the Palestinian parliament, is a leading member of the mainstream Fatah faction and helped negotiate the Oslo peace accord with Israel 10 years ago.

His candidacy for the prime ministerial post arose after Mr Abbas, America's preferred negotiating partner, unsuccessfully sought greater security powers from Mr Arafat.

Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom has said his country will oppose the establishment of a "puppet government controlled by Arafat".

"Israel will wait and examine the Palestinian prime minister according to his action," he said.

Power struggle

In Washington, Mr Powell said he expected Mr Qurei to take up the post and was waiting to see how much power he would be given by Mr Arafat to "deal with the terror that's kept us from moving forward".

Mr Abbas - also known as Abu Mazen - resigned after a protracted power struggle with Mr Arafat whih hinged on control of the security forces.

Mr Qurei has also been seeking European Union guarantees of support and an EU spokeswoman praised him as "a man who believes in peace with Israel and has done a lot for that".

However, Mr Qurei accused Israel of a "hostile attitudeż and he demanded an end to "assassinations" of Palestinian militants.

Israel struck at one of its highest-profile targets ever, the spiritual leader of Hamas, at the weekend.

The target, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, escaped with slight injuries.

The BBC's Richard Galpin
"Support for Mr Qurei came quickly from the European Union"

Saeb Erekat, Senior Palestinian negotiator
"I think we all have to look deep inside ourselves, I don't think Abu Mazen failed"

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