Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon Sunday conditionally welcomed plans to appoint Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, as prime minister of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA).
Sharon told the cabinet that the Palestinian step was welcome, but that Israel would "closely examine the extent of authority he is given."
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat Saturday named Abu Mazen as the new Prime Minister of the PNA in front of a meeting of the Palestinian Central, which convened in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
Abu Mazen said Friday that he would not accept the post unless he was certain of his responsibilities.
"I will be able to respond negatively or positively to Chairman Arafat's proposal when it becomes clear what kind of authorities the prime minister will have," he said, adding "What is important is the authority and not the position."
Zalman Shoval, an adviser to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, said Israel suspected Arafat wouldn't grant Abu Mazen any real power.
"He is a respected person without any doubt and I don't doubt his good intentions either, but the real question, of course, is what authority will he have," Shoval said.
According to a proposal brought before the Fatah central committee, Abu Mazen would be appointed as prime minister "with full powers."
He will be responsible for carrying out administrative, economicand security reforms at the Palestinian Authority, but will not be involved in steps related to future negotiations with Israel.
Israel and the United States have sought the naming of a Palestinian premier to limit Arafat's authority.
The Palestinian legislature is expected to convene Sunday to express confidence in the choice of Abu Mazen, after the Fatah's central council endorsed the decision on Saturday.