Reuters reports that
The Palestinian parliament ratified the new post of prime minister on Tuesday, drawing U.S. praise coupled with disappointment over President Yasser Arafat’s retention of key powers …Bush had said the release of the long-awaited peace plan to end Israeli-Palestinian violence and establish a Palestinian state by 2005 was conditional on the appointment of a prime minister with “real authority.”
Asked if the newly created office met the standard Bush had set, a senior State Department official in Washington said: “Yes.”
Arafat is an obstacle to peace both because of his actual record of failure and because the Israelis won’t deal with him, so assuming the expected appointment of Mahmoud Abbas goes ahead, that is one obstacle out of the road. On the other hand, Sharon is an equally serious obstacle and there has so far been no US reaction to his rejection of the roadmap for peace. I don’t know what to make of endorsements of the Palestinian move by an unnamed “senior State Department official”. If this is Powell, it seems as if he’s unwilling to go on the record with the endorsement even though he did go on the record about ‘disappointment’.