(photo credit: AP [file])
The top Palestinian security official submitted his resignation during a Cabinet meeting Monday, citing a lack of progress in carrying out his new plan to bring law and order to the chaotic Palestinian territories. But Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh refused to let him step down, senior officials said.
Officials said Interior Minister Hani Kawasmeh has grown frustrated over the delays in moving forward with his plan, which the Cabinet approved early this month.
The plan called for reforms in the numerous Palestinian security forces, which have been plagued by corruption and infighting, and appealed to gunmen not to flaunt their weapons in public.
Palestinian Information Minister Mustafa Barghouti said Kawasmeh has experienced a "lack of cooperation" from security chiefs.
Kawasmeh also has complained that he has not been given sufficient decision-making powers, said Mohammed Madhoun, an aide to the prime minister. He confirmed that Kawasmeh attempted to resign at Monday's meeting, but said Haniyeh rejected the resignation.
Since Kawasmeh decided to remain on the job, the move was seen more as a pressure tactic on Palestinian leaders than an open threat.
The interior minister holds an extremely sensitive post, overseeing many of the security forces.
The rival Hamas and Fatah parties wrangled over the appointment for months before forming their unity government last month. Kawasmeh, an independent whose candidacy was backed by Hamas, was a little known bureaucrat before he got the job.
The rival parties formed the unity government with the aim of halting lawlessness and infighting that has claimed dozens of lives in the Gaza Strip over the past year.
The unity deal has largely halted fighting the rival sides, but clan violence, kidnappings and other crimes continue. On Monday, Palestinian medical officials said a 5-year-old girl was shot in the head by stray gunfire as she played in her home in the northern Gaza Strip.
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah issued a decree last week announcing the formation of a new national security council that would implement Kawasmeh's plan.
Hamas officials have expressed displeasure about the makeup of the council, which would be headed by Abbas and includes Mohammed Dahlan, a senior Fatah official who has rocky relations with Hamas.
Hamas also is unhappy that Fatah officials continue to hold key security posts.