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PALESTINE - Nov 14 - Arafat Mourners Attacked As Chaos Looms.

The risk of factional chaos as Palestinians prepare to elect a new president is underlined after Mahmoud Abbas, nominated to succeed Yassir Arafat, escapes injury when militants burst into a Gaza City mourning tent and exchanged fire with his bodyguards. A Palestinian security man was killed in the incident which formed a violent backdrop to an announcement by the interim president Rawhi Fattouh, that elections would take place on Jan 9. Abbas, a former PM known as Abu Mazen, is expected to be named the candidate of Fatah, the dominant Palestinian faction. Abbas, 69, is unpopular with most ordinary Palestinians. The gunmen shouted "No to Abu Mazen" as they fired shots in the air. Under Palestinian law, elections should be held within 60 days and officials urged Israel to pull back its military to allow a free and direct vote, including in East Jerusalem. "If the Israelis continue to obstruct voting or keep their army inside our areas, I don't think we can hold elections", said Saeb Erekat, a Palestinian negotiator. Israeli PM Sharon, looked set to agree to voting in East Jerusalem, particularly if Washington applied pressure, having initially opposed the move, reports said. On Nov 14 UK PM, said achieving peace in the Middle East was important if the war on terrorism was to be won. Speaking on NBC's Meet the Press, recorded after his meeting with Pres. Bush, he said: "As a political challenge, I think it is the toughest we face because the single biggest blow that we could deal to the terrorists, along with democracy in Afghanistan, democracy in Iraq, is to take away this cause on which they prey and they feed, and deliver a viable and democratic Palestine alongside a secure and democratic Israel".
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:7PALE
Date:Nov 20, 2004
Words:291
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