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On The Scene

Chris Burns: A frustrated Abbas

CNN's Matthew Chance, left, and Chris Burns.
CNN's Matthew Chance, left, and Chris Burns.

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CNN's Matthew Chance talks with Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erakat about the resignation of Mahmoud Abbas.
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CNN's Chris Burns on Israel's latest threat to expel Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat from his shattered compound.
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(CNN) -- Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas submitted his resignation on Saturday, blaming Israel and the United States for inaction on the road map for peace and frustrated by a power struggle with Palestinian President Yasser Arafat throughout his four months in office.

CNN anchor Sean Callebs spoke Saturday with CNN correspondents Chris Burns in Jerusalem and Matthew Chance in Ramallah about the Palestinian political turmoil.

BURNS: ...We might point out that we got this letter of resignation from the prime minister, talking about why he is resigning.

It's quite interesting, because there are five points and the first few points lay the blame very much on Israel and the United States, saying: "The fundamental problem is Israel's unwillingness to implement its road map commitments."

Number 2, the United States and the international community did not exert sufficient influence on Israel to implement its commitments."

Then he also talks about lack of support for implementation of his government's policies. That's where he's been stymied over the last hundred days by Arafat supporters and Arafat himself, who has jealously guarded his control over a number of security forces that Abbas would like to get a hold of. He would like to consolidate those security forces so he can try to start reining in the militants as Israel is demanding.

CALLEBS: Thank you. Now we head off to Ramallah and the latest. Matthew Chance is just outside Yasser Arafat's compound.

CHANCE: There's no official word coming out of Yasser Arafat's compound. The building is right behind me but very much the focus is what will be decided by Arafat as he sits down with his advisers to decide whether to accept this resignation that has been submitted by his prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, over the course of the past few hours.

If he does accept it, it may have far-reaching implications for the U.S.-backed peace process, known as the "road map."

Israel, for one, has made it quite clear it will not negotiate with Yasser Arafat. It does not regard the Palestinian president as a peace partner it can trust. Israeli officials have also gone as far as to say they will not negotiate either or deal either with any officials that are appointed by Yasser Arafat in the near future.

Israel making it very clear that it regards Mahmoud Abbas as the only individual in the Palestinian Authority at this stage that it sees fit to lead that Palestinian Authority and to implement, from the Palestinian side, the U.S.-backed road map.

Palestinian officials here very concerned if this resignation is accepted by Yasser Arafat, and it's not clear that it will be yet, then that may mean the United States officials will simply walk away from this entire process, and that's something many people here, many Palestinian officials say they want to avoid at the utmost.


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