RAMALLAH, West Bank – Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat (search) agreed Saturday to consolidate his security forces into three branches, a key international demand for reform, a top aide said.
Arafat also replaced the national police chief, who was one of six people abducted Friday, and named two new top officials in a shake-up of his security machine, said the aide, Nabil Abu Rdeneh.
The Palestinian leader appointed his cousin Mousa Arafat al-Qidwe (search), 64, as the new security chief for the Palestinian territories, which were plunged into turmoil Friday when Police Chief Ghazi Jabali was taken with another senior security officer and later released.
Four French charity workers were also abducted and held for several hours, in what militants said was a show of force before the planned withdrawal of Israeli forces and thousands of settlers from the Gaza Strip.
Egypt and the quartet of international peacemakers -- the United States, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union -- have been pressing Arafat to bring rival security factions under unified control. More than a dozen security branches now operate in the areas, often fighting each other.
An Egyptian plan specifically called for the streamlining of the services into three branches in Gaza and the West Bank.
Abu Rdeneh said the security forces would be the national police, public security forces and intelligence.
Mousa Arafat, a first cousin of Yasser Arafat (search) who has been with him since the early days of the Palestinian national struggle in 1965, replaced Abdel Razzak AL-Majaideh, who was considered ineffectual.
The Palestinian leader also appointed Saeb al-Ajez as the new police chief for the West Bank and Gaza, replacing, Jabali who has been widely accused of corruption.
The chief of intelligence was not immediately named.