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West Banker new Jordan premier

Jordan's King Hussein has moved quickly to replace his country's prime minister, who passed on July 3, Monitor special correspondent Helena Cobban reports.

Qassem Rimawi, the deputy prime minister and agriculture minister, will succeed the late Sharif Adbel-Hamid Sharaf. mr. Rimawi, who comes from the Israeli-occupied West Bank of the Jordan River, also was appointed defense minister.

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Mr. Sharaf, who was partly American-educated and served as Jordanian ambassador to the United States between 1967 and 1972, was born to a aristocratic Arab family that is part of the king's own Hashemite dynasty. He was appointed premier last December and helped King Hussein plot a course of opposition to the Camp David peace process, while retaining Jordan's traditional close links with the West.

King Hussein will need political continuity in the coming months, as further changes are expected to upset his region's precarious balance.

To his west, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin is ill, with his govvernment's majority cut to a minimum. To the north, the Syrians are moving rapidly away from their recent close alliance with Jordan.

This has left King Hussein in closer league than ever before with Saudi Arabia and, more significantly, with the socialist-minded leaders of Iraq.

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