08 September 2003
The European Union says it will support Ahmed Korei, Palestinian President Yasser Arafat's nominee for prime minister, who has demanded such support as a condition for taking the job.
According to Cristina Gallach, the spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, Ahmed Korei is a man who believes in peace with Israel and has done a lot towards that end. She says Mr. Solana knows Mr. Korei and has worked very well with him, and the Palestinian official is highly respected by the European Union.
Mr. Korei has said he wants U.S. and European guarantees of support before accepting the post of prime minister. Mr. Korei is a moderate, and he is one of the architects of the 1993 interim Oslo peace accords with Israel.
Mr. Arafat chose Mr. Korei on Sunday to replace Mahmoud Abbas, who resigned saying that the Palestinian president and Israel have obstructed his peace efforts and that Washington has not given him enough backing.
Analysts says Palestinian officials want a new leader named quickly to prevent a political vacuum that might work in favor of Israel. Israeli officials have said Mr. Abbas's decision to step down is a blow to hopes for peace.
The European Union is part of what is known as the quartet of Middle East mediators that also includes the United Nations, Russia and the United States. The European Union helped draft the peace plan known as the road map. EU foreign policy chief Solana has said the organization will do its utmost to ensure that the road map is implemented.