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PA minister 'resigns in protest of UN move'

Oct. 3, 2009 8:43 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 5, 2009 12:09 P.M.)
Bethlehem – Ma'an – The Palestinian Authority minister of national economy, Dr Bassem Khoury, on Saturday refused to confirm or deny reports he was planning to resign over the PA's involvement in a controversial move carried out by the PLO's ambassador to the UN.

The Paris-based news agency AFP quoted an anonymous official close to the minister as saying that Khoury "has resigned to protest the Palestinian Authority's agreement not to discuss the Goldstone report [at the UN on Friday]."

However Khoury, a political independent, would not speculate on his future in government when pressed during a telephone interview with Ma'an late Saturday evening.

Bowing to pressure from the West on Friday, the Palestine Liberation Organization's ambassador to Geneva delayed until March a vote at the Human Rights Council that would have confirmed South African justice Richard Goldstone's comprehensive report, which found evidence that Israel and several Palestinian factions committed war crimes during the assault on Gaza last winter.

Khoury would be the second minister to resign since caretaker Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's government was formed earlier this year. Hatem Abdul Qader, the former PA minister of Jerusalem affairs, stepped down in July over what he called the PA's failure to help East Jerusalem residents facing Israeli home demolitions and efforts to strip them of residency.

In any event, the economy chief would not be the first PA official to register his or her outrage on Saturday.

Hours before reports surfaced on Khoury's resignation, Majida Al-Masri, the PA social affairs minister, said the government's position at the UN had harmed national interests and embarrassed Palestine's allies. The first caretaker minister to speak out against the move, she said the delay "gave Israeli war criminals the opportunity to avoid the report's repercussions."

Al-Masri, a member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine's political office, said the PLO ambassador's move "contradicts the Palestinian national consensus," adding that the delay had "angered friends and allies of the Palestinian people." She urged the leadership to "consider what happened there a lesson to avoid repeating in the future."

Meanwhile, the DFLP also said the PLO had made a terrible mistake that "deepens Palestinian rivalry and raises questions about what motivated such a directive - as well as the decision-makers who ordered it."
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