The following are brief biographies of the Palestinian Cabinet ministers:

Ahmed Qureia, prime minister (Fatah): Former speaker of Palestinian Legislative Council. Key negotiator of Oslo peace accords.

Hakam Balawi, interior minister (Fatah): Close confidant of Yasser Arafat. Novelist, playwright.

Salam Fayad, finance minister since June 2002 (Independent): Former International Monetary Fund official. Earned master's and doctoral degrees in economics from University of Texas.

Nabil Shaath, foreign minister since April 2003 (Fatah): Former minister for planning and international cooperation. Earned doctorate in economics from University of Pennsylvania. Headed first Palestinian delegation to United Nations.

Saeb Erekat, minister for negotiations with Israel (Fatah): Holds doctorate in conflict resolution and peace studies from Britain's University of Bradford. Minister for local government 1994-2003.

Hisham Abdel Razek, minister for prisoner affairs (Fatah): Spent 21 years in Israeli jails. Minister for prisoner affairs 1998-2003. One initiator of unofficial "Geneva accord" peace plan.

Naim Abu Humous, education minister (Fatah): Holds doctorate in education from San Francisco State University.

Metri Abu Aita, tourism minister (Fatah): Former minister of tourism and transportation.

Azzam Ahmed, communications minister (Fatah): Former minister of public works, housing. PLO representative to Iraq 1979-1994.

Abdel Rahman Hamad, housing minister (Fatah): Former natural resources minister, chair of Palestinian Energy Authority. Holds doctorate in electrical engineering from University of Wisconsin.

Zahira Kamal, minister for women's affairs (Palestine Democratic Union): Attended first all-women meetings with Israeli politicians in 1989.

Ghassan Khatib, labor minister (Palestinian People's Party): Director of non-governmental Jerusalem Media and Communications Center.

Maher Masri, minister of economy and trade (Fatah): Lead Palestinian negotiator in economic talks with Israel.

Hassan Abu Libdeh, Palestinian cabinet secretary (Fatah): Director of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. Holds a doctorate in statistics from Cornell University.

Jamal Shobaki, minister for local government (Fatah): Heads legislative economic committee. Fatah activist in first Palestinian uprising in 1987, imprisoned 10 years.

Jamil Tarifi, minister for civil affairs (Fatah): Held same Cabinet positions 1996-2002.

Jawad Tibi, health minister (Fatah): Surgeon imprisoned by Israel for eight years.

Nahed Rayes, justice minister (Fatah): Deputy speaker of parliament 1995-1997. Headed PLO military court 1970-1994.

Nabil Qassis, planning minister (Independent): Former tourism minister and minister without portfolio. Holds doctorate in nuclear physics from American University of Beirut. Negotiator with Israel since 1998.

Qadoura Fares, minister without portfolio (Fatah): Imprisoned 14 years in Israel. Negotiated release of Palestinian prisoners. One initiator of "Geneva accord."

Salah Taamari, minister for sport and youth (Fatah): Led Palestinian forces in Jordan before 1970.

Hikmat Zaid, transportation minister (Fatah): Former agriculture minister.

Suleiman Abu Sneineh, minister of state for law (Fatah): Lawyer.

Yehiyeh Yakhlof, minister of culture (Fatah): Novelist.

Intissar al-Wazir, minister of social services (Fatah): Widow of the late Palestinian fighter Abu Jihad, who was killed in a 1988 raid in Tunis, Tunisia, widely attributed to the Israelis.