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Palestinian prime minister: Gaza in chaos

U.N. chief calls for action to restore security

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qorei answers questions Monday at a news conference.
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The most serious internal challenge to Yasser Arafat's power in years.

Palestinian Authority PM Ahmed Qorei says his resignation stands.

Anti-Arafat protests are on an unprecedented scale.

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Yasser Arafat

RAMALLAH, West Bank (CNN) -- Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ahmed Qorei said Monday that Gaza was in "chaos," as two officials each claimed to be chief of general security in Gaza and the West Bank.

Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, facing an unprecedented challenge to his power, said nothing.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on Arafat to "take the time to listen" to Qorei and other leaders.

"What is important is the action that needs to be taken on the ground to bring it under control, and for the Palestinian Authority... to being [willing] to reform -- particularly to bring the security forces under one command," he said.

The unrest in Gaza began Saturday, when Arafat replaced Abdel Razik al-Majeida as head of national security with Mussa Arafat -- the Palestinian leader's nephew. After the announcement, about 2,000 demonstrators filled the streets of southern Gaza, complaining that Yasser Arafat was replacing "corruption with more corruption."

Several leaders of Arafat's Fatah movement resigned in protest.

Sunday violence in Gaza included the burning of Palestinian intelligence offices in Khan Yunis by Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades -- a military offshoot of Fatah that Israel and the U.S. State Department consider a terrorist organization.

Qorei, who has twice tried to resign after demanding greater power to revive peace efforts with Israel and to fight the turmoil and poverty gripping Gaza, met with his Cabinet on Monday to discuss the upheaval.

At a news conference in Ramallah, West Bank, Qorei said his written resignation still stands but that he had not received a written response from Arafat since filing his resignation letter.

Qorei said Monday that his Cabinet members had formed a committee to meet with Arafat to convey their growing concerns over the Gaza violence.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on Arafat to "take the time to listen" to Qorei and other leaders.

Last week, U.N. Middle East envoy Terje Roed-Larsen warned the Security Council that the Palestinian Authority "is in deep distress and is in real danger of collapse," and blamed Arafat for not carrying out promised reforms.

"The events have borne [Roed-Larsen's assessment] out," Annan told reporters at the United Nations in New York. "But that is not anything to take satisfaction from."

He encouraged Arafat to work "with the Egyptians and the Jordanians and the international community to reform his security apparatus."

In addition to firing al-Majeida and naming his nephew as security chief, Arafat announced Saturday that he would consolidate the 12 security organizations in Gaza into three units: national security, armed forces and police.

Yet despite apparently being sacked, al-Majeida maintains that he still holds his position.

Speaking in Gaza, al-Majeida told reporters he had been reinstated as head of national security after his dismissal Saturday.

Meanwhile, Mussa Arafat maintained he was still in control, Palestinians sources said.

After his Cabinet meeting, Qorei said, "Who is corrupt and who isn't corrupt? These are the questions that are being raised, but this is not how corruption is solved."

He called on all Palestinians to "put an end to chaos and violence" as a way to "achieve our national goals."

"How joyful the Israelis are these days," Qorei said. "The only winners are our enemies."

Militant's house explodes

Also Monday, the house of a Palestinian militant leader exploded in the Shati refugee camp in Gaza, wounding three people.

Sources in the Palestinian Popular Resistance, an umbrella organization representing a number of Palestinian militant groups, said the house belonged to Abdel Karim El Kuka, a leader in the group.

Witnesses reported seeing an Israeli drone aircraft in the sky just before the blast. The Israel Defense Forces had no immediate comment. Palestinian security sources said the people who were wounded had been handling an explosive device.

Kuka had left the house shortly before the explosion and was not injured, the Popular Resistance sources said. One of the wounded was seriously hurt and two others suffered lighter injuries, the sources said.

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