The director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum is leaving his post following a clash over an invitation for Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to tour the center.

"I have determined not to seek renewal of my appointment," Walter Reich said Wednesday in a statement to the chairman of the museum's governing board.Reich fought with board members last month after he rejected a State Department suggestion to invite Arafat on a tour of the museum. Holocaust officials later reversed course under pressure from the Clinton administration. Arafat ultimately declined the invitation, citing time constraints.

Nathan Lewin, Reich's attorney, said the incident "certainly was a major factor" in his client's departure but declined to comment further.

Reich, whose three-year contract would have expired June 7, will stay on through March 31.