The death of President Yasser Arafat on 11/11/2004 and his funerals, separate two stages in the history of the Palestinian people; a long one traced by him, and a new one that started lately, and which aspects are difficult to define. All Palestinian forces agree on the fact that this is a dangerous stage, because it is a transitional one.
It would be difficult for Arafat’s successor to fill the void left by the leader of the Palestinian revolution. He would have to carry a heavy burden of a lifetime of struggle. The new authority will face internal and external obstacles, the most important being Fatah, the weakness of the security systems and peace forces, in addition to Hamas and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades’ insistence on refusing to stop military actions and the militarization of the Intifada. As for the two main external obstacles, they consist of:
-First, the Israeli Prime Minister’s stance from the Palestinian people and the peace process. The members of the Palestinian political regime are convinced that Sharon’s antagonistic position from peace and Arabs is based on a radical ideological conviction, and on historical complexes. If we closely observe Sharon’s attitude, we would see that he always searches for alibis to maintain his positions; thus, he would deploy every possible effort to provoke the Palestinians and kindle confrontations.
It is evident that Sharon is not eager about the democratization of the Palestinian situation, and seeks to undermine the Palestinian elections. He hopes that a Palestinian suicide attack would take place, in order to use it as a cover for more violent actions. He knows that resuming negotiations and security collaboration would oblige him to carry out essential modifications to his plans.
-Second, the stance of George W. Bush and the members of his administration, who always support Sharon and his government. In his second mandate, Bush will maintain his previous policy concerning the Middle East, which means sticking to the radical Right wing.
Whoever thinks that Arafat’s death would lead to a change in the U.S. support for Sharon would be mistaken. Needless to say that Powell’s visit would not be fruitful, and nothing would hold Sharon back from undermining the elections of Arafat’s successor.
*Mr. Nawfal is a Palestinian writer from Ramallah.