Jordanian Cabinet Reshuffle Eliminates Opponents to Peace Talks
AMMAN, Jordan (AP) _ The prime minister replaced Cabinet members opposed to the kingdom’s joining a U.S.-sponsored Middle East peace conference in a government reshuffling Thursday.
The moves by Prime Minister Taher Masri affected six ministries. They did not signal a major policy change, but underlined Jordan’s determination to purse Arab-Israeli peace talks despite opposition by Muslim fundamentalists and pan-Arab nationalists.
Thursday’s shuffle brought the number of Palestinians in the 25-member Cabinet to seven. Masri, 49, himself is a Palestinian from the Israeli- occupied West Bank city of Nablus.
Kamel Abu Jaber, a minister of economy in 1973 and a prominent politician and professor of political science at Jordan Univeristy, was appointed foreign minister.
He replaced Abdullah Nsour, who was in New York attending the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly.
The television said Nsour, who delivered Jordan’s annual address to the general assembly Wednesday, had asked to be relieved of his job ″for personal reasons unrelated to the peace process.″
Among others replaced were Salim Zoubi, the environmental affairs minister; and Mohammed Fares Tarawneh, minister for prime minister affairs. Zoubi and Tarawneh are leaders of the Arab Nationalist Movement, which opposes any concessions to Israel.
Abdul Razzaq Qteishat, mayor and native of the northern city of Irbid, replaced Zoubi. Kassim Obeidat, a former minister of labor and a member of parliament, replaced Tarawneh.
Also replaced was Religious Affairs Minister Raef Nijm, who like Zoubi and Tarawneh opposed the government’s plans to attend the upcoming peace conference sponsored by Washington and Moscow.
Nijm was replaced by Izzeddine al-Tamimi al-Khatib, a native of the Israeli-occupied West Bank city of Hebron and Jordan’s leading religious figure for more than two decades.
The TV said Masri relieved Khalid Karaki as information minister, but retained him as minister of culture and also gave him the portfolio of higher education, replacing Mohammed Hammouri, who resigned last week for non- political reasons.
Mahmoud Sharif, a prominent jounalist and chief editor of Ad-Dustour Arabic-language daily, was named information minister.