New Palestinian interior minister a retired military man
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- The Palestinian Authority's new interior minister, Abdel Razak Al-Yahya, is a longtime military and security strategist who also has experience negotiating those issues with the Israelis.
Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat relinquished the post Sunday as part of a shake-up in his Cabinet that reduced the number of ministers to 20 from 32.
Born near Haifa in 1929, Al-Yahya earned a master's degree in military science from the Damascus Military College in Syria and then was an officer in the Syrian army during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. He was a key designer of the defense strategy employed around the Syrian capital of Damascus at that time.
As chief of the Palestine Liberation Organization's army from 1969 to 1972, Al-Yahya was military adviser to the PLO's executive committee and served on that panel again later in his career.
Since the 1993 signing of the Oslo accords, the retired Al-Yahya has been closely involved in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. He headed the security committee in talks from 1993 to 1995 and became chairman of the Higher Committee on Security in 1996.
Since 1999, Al-Yahya has been chairman of the committee on Security and Borders in talks with Israel.
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