OPINION

Entering a new era

If there is a general consensus that the death of Yasser Arafat signals the end of an era, it is also true that there is widespread fear of what may happen in this new era following the departure of the historic Palestinian leader. This is true of everyone except those on the «other side» who, apart from making unacceptable comments about the death of their rival, are no doubt also hoping for a greater upheaval so that they can press ahead with their plans… Despite all the strategic mistakes he may have made, Arafat constituted a balancing factor for the extreme factions of the Palestinian movement, something which had been acknowledged by the USA before Bush came to power. The struggle to succeed Arafat will be a difficult one and it is impossible to predict clearly what its outcome will be. What is certain is that it will be impossible to find someone in the foreseeable future who will be able to replace Arafat in all the leadership roles he held – head of the Palestinian Authority, Fatah, the PLO, and of the Palestinian security forces. Even if the collective leadership elected to represent these four elements manages to function harmoniously (something which is not at all certain), it is clear that it will require some form of support from the international community as soon as possible – to ensure domestic stability and the chance for international credibility…