Editor’s note: Each week, WorldNetDaily White House correspondent Les Kinsolving asks the tough questions no one else will ask. And each week, WorldNetDaily brings you the transcripts of those dialogues with the president and his spokesman. If you’d like to suggest a question for the White House, submit it to WorldNetDaily’s exclusive interactive forum MR. PRESIDENT!

At today’s White House news briefing, WND asked presidential press secretary Ari Fleischer about President Bush’s referral to Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmud Abbas as the leader of the PA, despite considerable dispute over Yasser Arafat’s continued control.

WND: Yesterday, Ari, in your answer to my question, you referred to Prime Minister Abbas as “the leader of the Palestinian Authority.” But last month, Abbas himself said, “Arafat is the top of the Palestinian Authority. He’s the man to whom we refer, regardless of the American or Israeli view of him.” And my question, how can the Bush administration possibly refer to Abbas as the real leader when Abbas, as well as the official Palestinian newspaper, still identify Arafat as the leader?

FLEISCHER: Because this is the president’s approach. It is well-known. The president recognizes the prime minister of the Palestinian people as their leader. And he thinks that’s the effective way to proceed.

WorldNetDaily then asked Fleischer about the timing of his departure from the White House staff.

WND: Across the country, people are wondering just what date in July you are going to leave us. And there is also concern about the absence of any progress report in the selection of a successor to match your mettle. (Laughter.) Surely, you can help us out in this area of concern, can’t you, Ari?

FLEISCHER: Lester, that is probably one of the most meddlesome questions you’ve ever asked. (Laughter.)

WND: What date, Ari?

FLEISCHER: I will be leaving just as I indicated earlier in the –

WND: Sometime in the July?

FLEISCHER: – the middle of July.

WND: Middle, about the 15th?

FLEISCHER: Somewhere right around there, in the middle of July.

WND: And what about the process of selecting a successor?

FLEISCHER: As you know, I don’t speculate about personnel. But you’ll like the successor.

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