After a sudden illness and two weeks of near death, Palestinian Authority President and P.L.O. Chairman Yasir Arafat died at 75 in a French military hospital. The cause of death is currently a mystery. Palestinian institutions appear to be orderly engaging in their succession process.
Israeli PM Sharon has announced that this could trigger a "historic turning point" in the Middle East as to peace possibilities. (Ordinarily, one would want an American honest broker along for the ride, but the American voters recently made that impossible by returning the Imperium.)
I have long held that Arafat (naturally rewarded with a Nobel Peace Prize for this) was the principal obstacle to peace. His death now presents a very serious opportunity... will it be squandered?
IF... Israel now tries to shove a non-viable archipelago down the throats of the new Palestinian leadership (which looks to be divided among at least four players, the heads of the PA, PLO, Fatah and the Prime Minister).... "peace" may still be unavailing.
IF... Israel goes back to what could be called "the Taba plan" proposed back when Ehud Barak was PM and Arafat, of course, rejected, and builds on that, maybe we could actually get somewhere.
Time will tell. All I'll say now about Arafat is that he was a major figure, and his death is significant. It does indeed present an opportunity. For what, remains to be seen.
The coincidence of his death with the political progress on disengagement in Israel is a somewhat hopeful sign. The chance of some sort of coordination on withdrawal from Gaza certainly just went up, and the potential for increased chaos in a dangerous post-withdrawal vacuum went down. I would certainly be more hopeful with competent leadership in Washington that actually cared about the issue.
Posted by Haggai at November 11, 2004 10:12 AM
There doesn't seem to be anyone coming forward with fond Arafat memories, so I'll offer one. I remember when Yasser first met Kenneth Lay. Young Kenny was trying to set up something like what became Enron, but 20 years earlier. Then, Kenny thought only a rogue state could harbor rogue companies. He was so naive back then. He approached Arafat to garner support for this creation. Arafat was still pretty much a thug then, just like he was when he died. So, he told Kenny to f off, and that the Palestinians would take the world by force and fear. On the way back home to the USA, Kenny bumped into some Saudis. The rest is history.
Posted by Hassan Bar Sinister at November 11, 2004 10:18 PM
I got a little misty with that one.
Posted by They Call Me Mr. Crabcake at November 12, 2004 10:49 AM
Oh my gosh...Mr. C and Hassan reveal their good hearts...I knew it !!!
TD...belated but sincere congratulations on your marathon performance.
Posted by alicia at November 12, 2004 7:54 PM
Interesting interview with Scott Peterson after the verdict. He said:
"I can understand the conviction for the wife, but I'm getting second degree murder for whacking these proto-human cell clusters?"
I thought that very strange.
Posted by They Call Me Mr. Crabcake at November 12, 2004 8:17 PM