November 12, 2004
DEATH OF ARAFAT: 'HEROIC DEEDS,' BUT MANY 'SHORTCOMINGS'
** Arafat was a "symbol" of Palestinian hopes but an "obstacle" to an independent Palestine.
** Optimists describe Arafat's death as "yet another chance" for a "new opening" for peace.
** Pessimists see a "dangerous void" in the PA, with "conflict verging on civil war."
** The U.S. must "initiate mediation efforts" given this "opportunity to revive" dialogue.
The 'architect of modern terrorism'-- Global papers noted Arafat's mixed legacy. Several Muslim writers joined conservative and Israeli critics in decrying Arafat's "shortcomings," including "incompetence and corruption" and his status as the world's "father of terror." Canada's conservative Halifax Herald concluded that Arafat left his people "humiliated in a dangerous, impoverished ghetto." But developing world observers praised the "illustrious Third World hero," focusing on his success in "forcing the world...to acknowledge the existence of a Palestinian nation." Reflecting widespread Arab opinion, the West Bank's independent Al-Quds hailed Arafat's "insistence on our people's unity and adherence to liberation."
A prod to 'restart the jammed peace process'-- Writers expressed a "sense of hope" that a "new leadership" has emerged among Palestinians that will abandon Arafat's "murderous policy" and create a "renewed and moderate" PA. Hong Kong's independent Ming Pao Daily News spoke for many by noting a "new opportunity for peace"; France's regional L'Alsace added that "Arafat's death could have a positive impact" by leading to "renewed dialogue" with Israel. Liberal dailies urged Israel to grasp this "potentially positive opening" for "advancing the prospects of peace" now that Arafat, the "alleged obstacle," is gone.
'Prevent the...territories from sliding into violent anarchy'-- Conservative dailies warned "a wave of anger, hatred and violence" may arise in the Palestinian territories following Arafat's death. As potential candidates "jockey for leadership in a post-Arafat era, most will see adopting a hard-line view against Israel as an asset" and intensify what Israel's Jerusalem Post termed a policy of "destruction and confrontation." Other papers focused on the probability of "internal chaos"; Denmark's Jyllands Posten feared "anarchy, brutal internal power struggles and uncontrollable violence" as factional disputes intensify. The Irish Examiner agreed that the "auguries are of division, treachery and possible civil war."
The U.S. should 'rediscover the role of honest broker'-- Asian and Euro outlets emphasized the U.S.' "decisive role" in putting the "peace process back on track," as President Bush is "the only one who can give the necessary push." Italy's centrist Corriere Della Sera flatly stated that "peace talks require George Bush's involvement," while Japan's moderate Yomiuri saw an "opportunity for President Bush to exercise leadership." Papers advised the U.S. to be more "even-handed," with Uganda's state-owned New Vision arguing it is "vital that the U.S. now intervenes to try and support moderation on both sides." But Morocco's independent L'Economiste had no confidence in the role of "America, the friend of the enemy."
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, firstname.lastname@example.org
EDITORS: Ben Goldberg, Steve Wangsness
EDITOR'S NOTE: Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment. Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion. Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet. This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government. This analysis was based on 90 reports from 41 countries over 11 - 12 November 2004. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.
BRITAIN: "Beyond The Humbug"
The conservative Daily Telegraph editorialized (11/12): "Mr. Arafat's death has given rise to a universal outpouring of political humbug. In reality, the Palestinian leader was popular neither with governments in the Arab world nor beyond. He may have kept alive the flame of independence, but did so at a terrible cost to his own people and, especially during the second intifada, launched after the collapse of Camp David, to the Israelis as well. It is natural that the Palestinians, like the Russians on the death of Stalin in 1953, should bewail someone who has led them for decades. But, as many of them have long realized, they will be better off without him."
The conservative Times commented (11/12): "The reality of Palestinian life is conflict verging on civil war, and it is as clear to many Palestinians as it is to frustrated Israelis that this death presents opportunities. Mr. Arafat had become a man with whom it was almost impossible to do business, but without whose sanction nothing could be done. The relatively smooth transition yesterday was a positive sign for Palestinians and the region.... The Bush administration's 'road map' assumes the existence of a viable Palestinian interlocutor. With Mr. Arafat gone, it is possible for such a figure to emerge.... George W. Bush's decisive election victory creates a momentum for progress. Ariel Sharon's willingness to pull Israeli soldiers and settlers out of the Gaza Strip is a further hopeful sign. Out of this death, may come a better life for the peoples of two tortured lands."
"Death Of Flawed Leader Offers Opportunity That Must Not Be Squandered"
The center-left Independent had this to say (11/12): "One day, perhaps, Yasser Arafat may be laid to rest in a united Jerusalem. But that day has not yet arrived. The fervent hope must be, however, that it has drawn a little closer with Mr. Arafat's departure.... History will judge whether Mr. Arafat was to blame for the failure of the Camp David talks in 2000.... However the past is interpreted, the present offers an unheralded opportunity for advancing the prospects of peace. The Israeli prime minister has won a parliamentary mandate for withdrawing from Gaza. President Bush is on the threshold of a second term and will be looking to his legacy. The European Union has an interest in showing foreign-policy unity and is keen to assist the Palestinians in developing Gaza. If the Palestinians hold timely elections that produce a forward-looking leader who wields authority, U.S. and Israeli complaints that there is no one to negotiate with will be put to the test. The opportunity is there. But it will not be there for long; it must be grasped."
"Bloodshed, Futility And The Martyr Who Betrayed His People"
Max Hastings commented in the conservative mid-market tabloid Daily Mail (11/12): "Today, in the wake of Yasser Arafat's death, there is a small window of opportunity. The tragedy is that neither side seems likely to take it. Arafat lacks a credible successor. The leadership of the Palestinians will be disputed by rival warlords, probably none capable of helping this tragic people to become a coherent society. The Israeli Right, in its turn, will perceive internal strife among their enemies as a new opportunity, a fresh excuse, for repression in the occupied territories and continued expansion of the West Bank settlements. If they only knew it, the Palestinian people have no more cause to mourn Yasser Arafat than we do. But in their despair and nihilism, they are likely to remember him as a martyr to Israeli persecution, rather than as what he was: a partner with Ariel Sharon in renewing their passports to misery for another generation."
"A Chance For Peace"
The center-left tabloid Daily Mirror declared (11/12): "The death of Yasser Arafat will bring a new leadership to the Palestinians which must be met by a sympathetic response from the Israelis. The future of the Middle East was already top of the agenda for today's meeting between President Bush and Tony Blair. It now has even more urgency and potential. We do not need to pass judgment on the life of Yasser Arafat. Just pray that his death will bring fresh hope to the Middle East."
FRANCE: "No Longer An Alibi"
Charles Lambroschini commented in right-of-center Le Figaro (11/12): “For the election of Arafat’s successor to be a success, there are two conditions that must be met. First the peace process must be set back on track through the ‘roadmap.’ If Sharon accepts to go back to the negotiations table, he will send a sign encouraging the Palestinians to elect moderate candidates able to sign a compromise with Israel.... Otherwise they will choose a war leader.... The second condition is that the Israeli army be committed to organizing fair and secure elections.... Arafat, who was never able to choose between being a terrorist and a statesman, offers with his own demise a unique chance for peace. It is no longer possible to refuse to negotiate because Arafat was the wrong interlocutor. Sharon has lost his alibi.”
"The Equation Is Changed"
Patrick Sabatier argued in left-of-center Liberation (11/12): “Let us hope that the end of Arafat, along with other recent events, will change the terms of the equation in the Middle East. One of these events is the re-election of President Bush: the president’s difficulties in Iraq and his desire to mark history may urge him to weigh in more on the conflict than in the past.... Sharon’s own difficulties in implementing his withdrawal from Gaza, added to pressure from the U.S. and Europe, should push him to negotiate with a Palestinian Authority which is no longer presided by his number one enemy.... And finally, the new Palestinian leaders will need to garner some legitimacy, now that they have been freed from the paralyzing figure of the father.... This is an optimistic scenario...but it is no longer pure fiction, considering the new terms of the equation.”
"Let’s Return To The Roadmap"
Patrick Fluckiger opined in regional L’Alsace (11/12): “It is time to return to the roadmap, which is itself in a sort of coma.... But the causes of this particular coma have been identified and can be remedied: they are the Palestinians’ refusal to stop their terrorist attacks, and Israel’s refusal to stop the settlements or to stop building the security fence. Arafat’s death could have a positive impact if it could lead to a renewed dialogue. Why not believe in this? The Palestinians have proven that their institutions can work and the Israelis seem to want a peaceful burial for their oldest enemy. It is often around a grave that exhausted old enemies meet.”
GERMANY: "Arafat's Legacy"
Stefan Kornelius opined in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (11/12): "Following Arafat's death, all sides involved must review their strategies. The United States as the classical power of order in the region must revive its engagement, which has become marginal. Every new, halfway democratically legitimized Palestinian personality that renounces violence will become a mandatory partner for talks for Washington. This new leading figure will gain stature all the faster, the sooner people link confidence and a new beginning to this new person the greater the international support is this person gets. But Ariel Sharon's policy will now be of decisive importance. The Israeli prime minister promoted this rigid situation. He, too, wanted a political standstill. Now his former opponent is dead, and Sharon has lost this fixation, the most important motive for his policy. It will be necessary to exert pressure on him, too, in order to get rid of the rigidity in the Middle East."
"End And Beginning"
Dietrich Alexander argued in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (11/12): "In the end, Yasser Arafat did the Palestinian cause a bad service. He left a pile of debris, an edifice by the name of Palestinian autonomous authority, hatred and agony, a totally disordered house. His death is creating a power vacuum, because his egotism and his selfishness have prevented other Palestinians from becoming Palestinian leaders. In the next few weeks, the Palestinians will pave the way for their future, they will have to decide whether they will plunge into a violent struggle for his succession or whether they want to embark on a structured orderly transition. They have the choice whether they want to build a future in peace on the side of Israel or give their fate into the hands of radicals."
"Death Of A Terrorist"
Bernd Ziesemer noted in business daily Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf (11/12): "It is true that Arafat urged the Palestinians to recognize Israel's right to exist, but he refused to make peace with the controversial Jewish state. Until his bitter end, he hoped to bomb Israel back to the negotiating table on his conditions by relying on suicide bombers. That is why a historic compromise between Arafat and Israel was impossible. It is true that his death will now open chances, but unfortunately no certainties, for the peace process. The pessimistic variant is: the Gaza Strip will now turn into one of those failing states in which anarchy will rule. If one wants to remain an optimist--something that is difficult in the Middle East peace process--we can pin our hopes on more capable leaders at the top of the PLO to whose hands not so much blood sticks than to Arafat's hands. Only if his successors bring along the will and the power to stop the murderous activities against Israel will their dream of a Palestinian state continue to live."
ITALY: "The Real Test For Peace"
Franco Venturini commented in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (11/12): “Like Franco, Tito, and Deng, Yasser Arafat died when an agreement for his succession allowed the plug to be pulled.... World leaders agree that a new era for peace begins.... It remains to be seen, however, how many of them will be willing to do their part.... Should we mention that the peace talks require George Bush’s involvement? Now that he is free of electoral limitations, and solicited by his super-ally Tony Blair, who is conscious that a thaw between Israelis and Palestinians would also weigh in Iraq and in transatlantic relations, the White House chief must choose between political obligation and straightforward support of Sharon. Bush must start from here if he wants his second term to introduce some kind of innovation.”
"A Man Who Invented A Nation But Who Never Told It The Truth"
Sandro Viola observed reports in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (11/12): “Yes, [he was] a liar. Just think, no one ever managed to discover where he was born.... But as leader of the Palestinian nation, it was convenient for him to say he was born in Palestine, only that he would confuse the cities: sometimes he would say he was born in Jerusalem, other times Gaza. But this shouldn’t be surprising because he began his career with falsehoods, propagandistic exaggerations and lies.... Yasser Arafat is primarily to blame for not having told his people the whole truth--that they would never return to the land they abandoned in 1948; that the most they could hope for was a compromise. Arafat was never clear. He wasn’t able, or perhaps he chose not to remove the idea of total revenge from the minds of Palestinians.”
RUSSIA: "Give Peace Another Chance"
Sergey Strokan commented in business-oriented Kommersant (11/12): "Yasser Arafat's departure is yet another chance for the Palestinians and Israelis to end the more than 50-year-old feud. It may be their last. Over the decades the antagonists have wasted quite a few chances to wipe the slate clean, acting as if there will be many more. Today's chance is special, if not unique, and costs far more than the previous ones. Up to now the Israelis said Yasser Arafat was the chief impediment to better relations with the Palestinians. His demise must prove them right or wrong. A continued jihad now will kill all hope for peace and an independent Palestinian state."
"Father Of Terror"
Veniamin Ginodman stated in reformist Gazeta (11/12): "The deceased will go down in history as the architect of modern terrorism. A man of genius, he begat all terrorist, extremist, nationalist and separatist groups of the contemporary world. He was a virtuoso, skilled in politics and guerrilla warfare, combining legal methods with illegal ones, dividing the underground into political and military, and setting radicals against moderates. His techniques have spread across the world, being extensively used and yielding fruit. Arafat, a symbol of the Palestinians' struggle in his lifetime, has become a perfect icon."
"Everything's Changed Now"
Yelena Suponina observed in reformist Vremya Novostey (11/12): "A new era has started in Palestine. It is unclear whether it is going to be better for the Palestinians. Everything has changed by now. Yasser Arafat, at 75, outlived the Soviet Union by 13 years. Being smart helped him endure for so long. After the collapse of the USSR, he could no longer capitalize on contradictions between Moscow and Washington."
AUSTRIA: "What Comes After Arafat?"
Foreign affairs editor Livia Klingl opined in mass-circulation Kurier (11/12): "In order for a new chapter to be opened in the Middle East...after years of human lethargy and economic agony, good sense will be necessary not just on the part of the Palestinians. Israel and the U.S., now rid of the alleged obstacle to peace, now have a responsibility. Sooner or later Israel will have to make peace with the Palestinians. It will only be a lasting peace, however, if it is based on respect, not on repression. Also, a lasting peace will have to entail the realization of Arafat's lifelong dream of a state of Palestine, not the creation of 'Bantustans' that are not capable of survival. It would be for George Bush to rediscover the role of honest broker, which was assumed by the U.S. during the Clinton era. After all, it has often been proved that double standards bring misfortune also to those whom one wants to protect. However, it is more than questionable at present whether the U.S. president, who is firmly committed to a black-and-white view of the world and military force, will take the chance to act as a mediator."
BELGIUM: "The Dream Of A Palestinian State"
Foreign editor Gerald Papy opined in independent La Libre Belgique (11/12): “Yasser Arafat had several lives and...redeemed some of his mistakes. Arafat was first Abu Amar, the man whom Palestinians considered the first defender of their national cause and the first resistant to Israeli occupation. He was a terrorist, Israelis say. But a terrorist the same way Menahem Begin, the future Israeli prime minister, was considered a terrorist by the British occupiers.... Arafat was then the peace negotiator with the Israelis, the man who turned the page of the fight with violent methods to make the Palestinians recognize an Israeli state. It was therefore legitimate for his courage to be rewarded by the Peace Nobel Prize.... While Palestinians are paying tribute to their ‘father,’ let us make two wishes. First, that Palestinians, who were not among the last to show political maturity in the Arab Muslim world, be smart enough to elect a leader that has the stature of a head of state rather than the aura of a charismatic leader. Secondly, that Israelis realize, like Rabin and Peres did, that in order to reach a lasting peace, there must be two partners and concessions must be made.”
"Bush Should Promptly Give Peace A Chance"
Diplomatic correspondent Mia Doornaert wrote in Christian-Democrat De Standaard (11/12): “The absence of a peaceful solution to the Middle East conflict cannot only be blamed on Arafat. With the death of Arafat and the beginning of a new chapter in the Middle East, many leaders, to begin with George W. Bush, must show that they are capable of seizing an opportunity.... If Ariel Sharon wants to demonstrate that Arafat was not just an excuse to avoid talking to the Palestinians, he will now have to send clear signals that dialogue can bring more than violence. The least he can do is immediately stop the construction of new settlements and of the security wall and make an offer for serious negotiations. And that is where U.S. President George W. Bush can play a decisive role.... He is the only one who can give the necessary push to put the peace process back on track, with negotiations, with a clear calendar, and with a proposed map of the future border between Israel and a Palestinian state. It is only if such a convincing initiative is promptly taken that moderate Palestinian leaders will stand a chance in the upcoming elections. Another consideration for Bush is that this is the best opportunity for him to mend the upset relations with the European allies. If there is one issue on which all EU member countries agree, it is that a peaceful settlement of the Middle East conflict is a top priority. And Bush can also expect full cooperation from the other two members of the quartet, i.e., the UN and Russia.”
DENMARK: "No New Day For Middle East”
Center-right Jyllands-Posten editorialized (11/12): “Arafat’s death could provide an opening for future Palestinian leaders to address the conflict. But, this could also signal the start of anarchy, brutal internal power struggles and uncontrollable violence. Over the last 40 years, Arafat has failed to bring his people into the 20th century. Instead, his legacy is one of ruin and corruption. If we did not know better, it would be tempting to say that this could be a new beginning for the Palestinians, but, unfortunately, history speaks against this. Even the Palestinians do not believe that there is any real hope for peace.”
"Arafat Will Not Be Missed As Momentum Gathers For New Peace Negotiations"
Center-left Politiken stated (11/12): “Far too many Palestinians have suffered from Arafat’s double-edged policies. If Arafat, in reality, wanted to see a violent conflict, he was unable to lead his people to victory. On the contrary, the most recent Intifada has cost the lives of 3000 Palestinians and 1000 Israelis.... He lost his wars and he wasted his chances for peace. His government was hopelessly corrupt and far too closely centered on his own personality. The lesson Palestinians must learn from the Arafat years is that they need a democratically elected leader who has the courage to choose peace. This would make it impossible for the Israelis to claim that the Palestinians do not want to move towards a solution. In this connection, Arafat will not be missed.”
HUNGARY: "The Death Of A Symbol"
Columnist Endre Aczel wrote in top-circulation, center-left Nepszabadsag (11/12): “Yasser Arafat was the father and depository of the Palestinian national movement and the concept of an independent Palestinian state for half a century. He had to fight his battles as much with Israel as with his Arab brethren .... It is to his credit that, with time, the Arab world emancipated the PLO; to his credit that the Palestinian movement had progressed to the recognition of the state of Israel and to signing the Oslo treaty to lay the foundation for Palestinian autonomy. He is to thank for the Israeli leaders taking out of quotation marks the concept of a Palestinian state. It is his tragedy that he was not able to realize his life’s dream, the establishment of the independent Palestinian state. It is the kind of tragedy, though, in which the hero himself had played the lead in bringing about the fall of the hero.”
IRELAND: "Leader Who Lost His Way"
The center-right, populist Irish Independent took this view (11/12): “Yasser Arafat personified the cause of the Palestinian people.... For all his faults and all his failures, it was he who brought them within sights of the statehood which at the outset of his career appeared a pipedream.... Arafat almost matched the worst Arab dictators...in the practice of corruption and the alleged theft of vast sums.... When real negotiations with Israel at last got under way, he made a series of blunders. For some he could be forgiven. The talks coincided with, in some cases followed, the rise of both Jewish and Muslim extremism, which fed upon each other in the hideously familiar way. But a huge proportion of the fault lay with Arafat. In his earlier days he had sponsored horrific forms of violence. When he later played the statesman, he did not know how to stop it.... He was a bad negotiator. He did not take advantage of the periods in power of moderate Israeli leaders (or the more even-handed American presidents) or build on the Oslo accords and the Camp David negotiations. He irritated and frustrated those who wished his people well. However, the most severe criticism must apply to the political situation he allowed to develop towards the end.... He should have arranged for an orderly transfer of power. Instead, the auguries are of division, treachery and possible civil war. Small as it is, Palestine could split. And the Muslim fundamentalists may show, more dramatically than before, how hollow were the hopes of democracy and secularism. A fair and practical settlement with Israel is still on the table. But it cannot be sealed without a stable Palestinian regime. Only one man, George Bush, can intervene to real effect, and whether and how he handles this crisis will be a prime test of his second term.”
"Preparing For The Post-Arafat Era"
The center-left Irish Times observed (11/11): “His death would transform the political circumstances surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, since it would enable a new leadership to engage afresh with Mr. Ariel Sharon in the changed international setting created by Mr. George Bush's victory in the U.S. elections. For the sake of peace and security in the Middle East it is essential that this potentially positive opening be fully grasped by all concerned. Palestinians are slowly coming to terms with the likely consequences of Mr. Arafat's death.... A new Palestinian leadership will presumably combine elements of the newer and older generations. It must be allowed to emerge democratically through elections and open political activity over coming weeks and months. This will require the Israelis to lift sieges and checkpoints.... Mr. Sharon and members of his government are having to rethink their plan to withdraw from Gaza, as a result of Mr. Arafat's illness and a likely new Palestinian leadership. Its unilateralism has been justifiably criticised by the international quartet seeking to restart settlement negotiations. Now that Mr. Bush has been re-elected the time has come for him to support these efforts much more vigorously, as Mr. Tony Blair will urge him to do at their meeting today. It is an opportunity not to be missed.”
POLAND: "Arafat’s Life, Palestine’s Fate"
Jan Skorzynski remarked in centrist Rzeczpospolita (11/12): “Yasser Arafat fought for Palestine in every possible way: with arms, as a soldier and terrorist; before the UN, as a leader of a political movement; at the negotiating table, as Chairman of the [Palestinian] Authority.... The 1994 Camp David peace agreement was Arafat’s greatest achievement. But his authoritarian governance of the Palestinian Authority was marked by inefficiency and corruption. When the Palestinian leader turned down Israel’s very far-reaching offer in 2000, it became clear that Arafat was becoming an obstacle on the road to a permanent peace.... Will his demise restart the jammed peace process? There is no certainty but only a hope.”
SPAIN: "Arafat, The War Leader Who Couldn't Built Peace"
Independent El Mundo wrote (11/12): "Arafat always knew how to face war, but he failed at building peace.... Arafat can be considered as a political giant in the Arab world and a leader that will go down in history, in spite of his huge mistakes.... The personality of Arafat's successor will be very important, but Sharon and Bush's attitude to renew the dialogue process, broken four years ago, will be more important. Arafat's disappearance means an important change in the negotiation panel. It remains to be seen if this is for better or worse."
"On The Death Of Yasser Arafat"
Conservative ABC observed (11/12): "It can't be forgotten that the distribution of Arafat's political heritage has ended up degenerating into a stage of infighting where the resort to violence is a daily occurrence and where the fight for control of the economic aid that has become the currency that fosters a dense network of corruption and interests. At the same time, with Araft's death, the Israeli leaders...lose their main pretext for saying that the peace process is blocked.... The Palestinians have an historic opportunity to demonstrate to the international community that they are able to assume a peaceful and civilized transition and that they can elect a successor with serenity and calm."
SWEDEN: "A Palestinian Epoch Is Laid To Rest"
Independent, liberal Stockholm morning daily Dagens Nyheter editorialized (11/12): “Yasser Arafat was a symbol of the Palestinians’ fight for self-government, a position he held to the end. He was the one who put the issue of Palestinian independence on the agenda. The Palestinian demand for an independent state is legitimate and has, in the course of time, been accepted by the international community including the U.S. ... Now Arafat is dead, and a new phase begins in the Mideast. New challenges may appear quickly...since there is uncertainty about who will succeed him.... Although there will be elections, the worst case scenario is that a bloody struggle for power will be around the corner.”
"Arafat Never Dared To Make Peace"
Conservative Stockholm morning daily Svenska Dagbladet commented (11/12): “Yasser Arafat could have gone down in history as a great leader. But he won’t. He did not grow with his task.... When the chips were down, Arafat did not manage to look beyond his own sphere of power. The path forward [for the Palestinians] can only be through democratic elections that will decide a legitimate political leadership that has a mandate to take the risk that Arafat did not dare--to make peace.”
TURKEY: "The Death Of Arafat And The Mistakes Of The Struggle"
Huseyin Gulerce maintained in the Islamist-intellectual Zaman (11/12): “Israel, which has been fully supported by U.S. policy no matter which party was in power, is now pleased by the death of Arafat. But will Arafat’s death really give Sharon the opportunity he is looking for? Although it’s difficult to say this right after Arafat’s death, we have to point out the mistakes in the PLO’s--that is, Arafat’s--policies. We have to ask, without letting our emotions get in the way, how much the up-and-down policies of the PLO really contributed to the struggle of the Palestinian people. We are all aching for the Palestinian people because of the massacres and inhuman treatment they have been subjected to.... We must also say that suicide attacks have no place in our religion.... The mistakes that have been made in the name of religion, by the actions of a few, have cast a shadow over a legitimate struggle and opened the way for Islam and all Muslims to be condemned by the world.... The recent U.S. attack against Iraq and ongoing U.S. policies have turned the Middle East into a real mess. A positive solution to this mess is impossible to see.... The U.S. and Israel see this moment as an opportunity to press their policies. They are counting on a weakening of the Palestinian movement with the death of Arafat. But peace in the Middle East depends most of all on U.S. willingness to free itself from the role of custodian of Israeli policies and interests. The main problem lies in the weakness of U.S. foreign policy. Bush and his team cannot hope to bring peace to the Middle East by ignoring all warnings and taking on the entire Islamic world. Palestine is a holy place for Muslims, Christians, and Jews. The basis for preventing a clash of civilizations lies in these territories. The eyes of the world are now on America.”
Oktay Eksi wrote in the sensationalist daily Hurriyet (11/12): “Arafat was without question an important leader in the Middle East. For 40 years he maintained the support of the people and the power of the struggle. Palestinians viewed him as the most courageous and determined symbol of their cause. But it would be hard to say that Arafat possessed the attributes of a real leader. For example, he wasn’t a leader whose word could be trusted. He was undoubtedly the symbol of the Palestinian cause. But rather than trying to legitimize that struggle, he preferred to make himself indispensable to the movement.... But even some flawed leaders can cause people to overlook their flaws by the magnitude of their great works. We couldn’t say that about Arafat, because his file also includes evidence that he took the people’s money and used it for his own purposes. The Palestinians deserve to have their independence and to establish their own state, but the price of this shouldn’t be extortion at the hands of their own leader.”
ISRAEL: "America's Time Out"
Dan Margalit wrote in popular, populist Maariv (11/12): "The [Israeli] Right [is disappointed] because Arafat's death won't return the U.S. to immediately supporting the road map instead of the disengagement plan.... The Left [is disappointed] because the longed-for U.S. pressure on Israel, through a president freed from any future election campaign, isn't in the cards. The Left will have to wait until the '60 + 60' formula is exhausted--60 days until the elections for the Palestinian leadership, and the same amount of time for reorganizing under a magnifying glass.... Contrary to commentators who had believed that pressure on Israel would speed up, the U.S. is going into a lower gear. There are three reasons for this. The first one is that the U.S. is waiting to see whether Abu Mazen and Abu Ala will control the Palestinian street.... The second reason for the slowing down is that the U.S. is aware of Ariel Sharon's difficult situation at the Knesset.... The third reason is that Europe--even Tony Blair--is pushing for a swift move in the Middle East. But at this time Bush doesn't want to look as someone who can be pressured.... In fact, Bush expects to become the first president in whose term over 20 settlements will be evacuated.... The key to understanding Washington's current outlook for the next few months is that...Bush doesn't intend to turn on a dime."
Shmuel Rosner held in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (11/12): "[Arafat's] heirs will get a second chance [at the White House], and this chance will be a real one. According to sources in the U.S. capital, the President already has great hopes that they will make the significant strides in the Middle East that he needs like oxygen.... The Bush staff has a clear worldview, which is easily comprehended, if inconsistently implemented. The Palestinians deserve a state of their own, even if hands must be forced, including the hand of Ariel Sharon. They must only meet basic conditions. The Bush administration, unlike its predecessors, does not see the Palestinian question as the key to the region's problems. They do not consider the Palestinian problem to be the cause of Arab enmity toward the U.S. and Israel, but, at most, an excuse that the Americans would be happy to neutralize. That would complicate the cause of Bush's opponents in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, and please his friends in Beirut and Europe."
Chief Economic Editor Sever Plotker wrote in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (11/12): "As fate would have it, Ariel Sharon will be the first Israeli prime minister since 1967 who will not have Arafat's shadow hovering over his head.... Sharon's role until now, among other things, was the crushing Israeli answer to Arafat, and herein lay one of the foundations of his political strength. Now, without Arafat, Sharon will have to be a different Sharon. He will have to make decisions without considering the reaction of the hated chairman. He will have to meet the test of leadership purely as Ariel Sharon, not as the opposition to Arafat. He will not fail.... Sharon's disengagement plan was, among its other objectives, also a move for disengagement from Arafat. This motive for unilateral disengagement from Gaza no longer exists--it is being buried in Ramallah--but other motives exist and have even been reinforced. A withdrawal that is unilateral means a historical Israeli concession that does not depend on any Palestinian steps in return, steps that are not possible over the coming year. This is the greatest gesture that Sharon could give any Palestinian leader."
"Enemy, Partner, Adversary"
Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (11/12): "Arafat, who died yesterday, led his people down the path of violence over the last four years as well, thereby distancing Israelis and Palestinians from the threshold of peace. He--who was restored to political life in 1993 by the Rabin government...did not fulfill Israeli hopes.... Without Arafat, the Palestinians would not have got as far as they did. But with him, and because of him, they were unable to get any farther. The leadership that follows in his footsteps will also have to deviate from them, even as it bows under the weight of his memory."
"A New Era"
Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post opined (11/12): "The arrival of the long-overdue post-Arafat era brings with it a sense of hope to some, deja vu to others.... In fact, Israel for now has little choice but to follow events rather than try to shape them, since the choices at stake are entirely the Palestinians' to make. This is not the first time the Palestinians are faced with an opportunity to reinvent their history. In the past seven decades at least five such opportunities emerged, the very opportunities which Abba Eban memorably remarked the Palestinians always made sure to miss.... The big question now, therefore, is whether the post-Arafat leadership will finally resort to construction and harmony, or remain addicted to destruction and confrontation. Should it opt for the former, it can count on finding an Israeli populace whose eagerness to give peace the chance it demands equals the determination with which it is giving terror the fight it deserves. The choice is all the Palestinians'."
"Arafat's Heirs Promise to Follow His Path"
Nationalist, Orthodox Hatzofe maintained (11/12): "The 'heirs' following in [Arafat's] footsteps have not expressed themselves against Yasser Arafat's murderous policy. Their silence was interpreted as an assent.... If this does become their policy, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon did the right thing by announcing to the security cabinet that Israel would not make concessions to the Palestinians.... Israel is obligated to demonstrate vigilance in order to prepare for the post-Arafat era.... [Arafat's heirs] vow to pursue [his murderous policy] relentlessly. Israel shouldn't ignore this."
WEST BANK: "After Yasser Arafat"
Samih Shubayb stated in independent Al-Ayyam (11/12): “Yasser Arafat’s passing means the end of a phase but doesn’t mean the end of a position or a trend. Thus, burying him as a symbol and a great hero sustains a trend and a life-journey.... One can say that since the Yasir Arafat’s health crisis began to appear, the official Palestinian performance has been distinctive for its balance, wisdom and spirit of responsibility. Official Palestinian institutions...have dealt with matters in a civilized, reliable manner, inspiring a satisfactory and trustworthy beginning of the upcoming stage.”
"The President-Symbol Will Not Die In Us"
Independent Al-Quds editorialized (11/12): "If the body of President Arafat will be buried in the Palestinian land, which he loved and sacrificed his life for, Arafat the symbol, with his spirit, instructions, firm will, great giving, fabulous kindness, insistence on our people’s unity and adherence to liberation and independence, will be eternal in the heart and conscience of every Palestinian, Arab and lover of freedom, justice and peace.”
"The Passing Of Arafat: Israelis Losing A Historic Opportunity"
Ashraf Ajrami contended in independent Al-Ayyam (11/12): "The Israelis will discover, if the peace process is to resume, that they have lost much, particularly time, and have ruined all bridges that could have led to peace. [They will also find out] that any Palestinian leader will not accept less than what Yasser Arafat has accepted. Arafat’s power and historic image gave him the unmatched ability to face opponents, to convince those who show reluctance and to market any agreement with Israel. Things are now more complicated. It’s true that Palestinian leaders who will replace Arafat, such as Abu Mazin or others, are pragmatists but are not less than Arafat. None the less, circumstances are different and they need time and power to enable them to make decisions of such level of historicity.”
SAUDI ARABIA: "He Put Palestine On The Map"
The English-language pro-government Arab News held (11/12): "Yasser Arafat’s death in Paris yesterday closes one of the most dramatic chapters in the contemporary history of the Middle East.... His 40-year-long political career had a much broader impact on regional and world politics.... Arafat offered an attractive alternative: People power emanating from the barrel of a gun. As a long-term strategy, this was doomed to failure. But then there was the law of unintended consequences. Arafat’s revolutionary politics, condemned by many as terrorism, achieved what the Arab armies had failed to do: Forcing the world, and eventually Israel itself, to acknowledge the existence of a Palestinian nation.... Arafat, however, was destined to end his life in tragic failure.... It is too early for us to judge a man of such a stature as Arafat.... The best that the people of Palestine and their friends can do is to acknowledge Arafat’s achievement but also recognize his shortcomings. Among the latter was his dogged determination not to allow Palestinian politics to be institutionalized. His administration was also marred by incompetence and corruption.... Arafat must be remembered as the man who leaves behind a national identity.... Once the moment of grief is gone, the new Palestinian leadership should move quickly to revive the stalled peace process and prevent the imposition of a unilateral Israeli solution with the Gaza plan as its prologue.... The best way to remember Abu Ammar is to work to achieve his dream of an independent Palestinian state, living in peace and harmony with its neighbors."
JORDAN: "Father Of A Movement"
The elite, English-language Jordan Times declared (11/12): "Yasser Arafat, the quintessential symbol of Palestinian nationalism...always stood with his people.... Arafat had different levels and intensities of fights with almost every single Arab country, irrespective of ideological bases.... The only consistent trait about Arafat was his own sense of Palestinian identity and it was that sense that he preached.... Still Arafat remained the undisputed, unchallenged leader of the Palestinian people.... But in his mission to realise an independent Palestinian state Arafat failed. He was never able to transcend his application of nepotism and favouritism. At the same time, it is unfair to put Arafat on the same level with other Arab leaders, particularly as Israel never gave him a chance.... They have systematically dismantled the Palestinian National Authority--an authority which many Palestinians and others felt was not a modern structure that would energise the Palestinians and produce a progressive state."
LEBANON: "The Post-Arafat Era"
Nasir Al-Asaad noted in pro-Hariri Al-Mustaqbal (11/12): “With the death of Abou-Ammar, an era ends.... Perhaps this era should have ended before now.... The Palestinian people are in a very difficult situation.... What was taboo during Arafat’s era might not be a taboo after his death. The new leadership is as protective of the Palestinian cause as Arafat, however, its political mind is different than Arafat’s and its ability is less than Arafat’s abilities.... The Palestinian people have not started a historic process towards regaining Palestine...despite all these years of struggle.... Lebanon’s experience with Arafat deserves to be studied and discussed to learn from the mistakes...however, there is no doubt that Beirut was immortalized in Arafat’s conscience.”
"The Father Is Gone And The Mother Nation Will Stay Together"
Rafiq Khoury commented in centrist Al-Anwar (11/12): "Arafat made an epic of one of the toughest conflicts using three weapons: the rifle, an olive branch, and a pen. He placed his people on the world’s map with a rifle. He brought his people back to geography (i.e. worked on statehood) with an olive branch, and he signed orders and checks with a pen.... However, the complicated circumstances of his efforts towards reaching statehood led to wars that almost wiped Jordan and Lebanon out of history.... The events that followed Arafat’s death were expected. His comrades in Fatah distributed his many hats.... As for Sharon, who always used Arafat as a pretext for refusing to negotiate with the Palestinians, he will have to search for another pretext.... No one knows how things will develop but we have to learn from Arafat’s mistakes. He grabbed all the keys of authority and played with money then left without even having a home."
"The Last Stop"
Sateh Noureddine averred in Arab nationalist As-Safir (11/12): "As long as Arafat is not buried in Jerusalem, his death will continue to raise doubts and concerns. Being buried in Jerusalem is not merely a personal wish.... To be buried in Jerusalem means that the bitter conflict between the Arabs and the Jews has ended.... Ramallah is only few kilometers far from Jerusalem, however, this short distance strewn with Israeli obstacles.... The Palestinians had the opportunity to insist on burying Arafat in Jerusalem...or any area that overlooks the Al-Aqsa Mosque.... Arafat’s death did not bring his people any closer to Jerusalem.”
"That Who Will Always Return"
Samir Kassir opined in moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar (11/12): “Arafat was never afraid of death.... He faced it so many times.... Arafat had to confront being besieged three times...but we have to remember that he chose to face these confrontations. When the Israeli Army invaded Lebanon in June 1982, Arafat was outside Lebanon, but he returned to Beirut to face the Israeli barricade. The next year, when he returned to Tripoli (Lebanon) he realized that he would have to face being barricaded again.... Even when he was in Ramallah barricaded in by the Israelis, he chose to be there.... A man with this degree of courageousness...how can he be a man who looks for a peace settlement? This was his difficult dilemma.... However, he realized early that a peace settlement is necessary.... The Palestinians have not defeated their enemy yet...and Arafat was not able to build an independent Palestinian state...however, he did what is even more difficult...he did the impossible! When Arafat succeeded in returning to Gaza with 300,000 fighters ten years ago, He confirmed that the march towards Palestine had begun.”
MOROCCO: "Arafat...The Leader And The Cause"
Nationalist Arabic-language Al Alam stated (11/12): "Arafat has died, but not the Palestinian cause that he defended. (This cause) will blaze on, imposing itself as an invariable that can not be eliminated until the Palestinian people achieve their national legitimate rights."
Khalid Belyazid observed in independent French-language L'Economiste (11/12): "Arafat's death shows the power of life, the power of his own life. A fighter, he even fought death, making the world hold its breath. He offered himself the luxury, through his own death, of snatching the spotlight from Bush, who was not allowed to enjoy his victory in peace. That was the last bad joke he played on America, the friend of the enemy."
"The Palestinian People Have Been Left Orphans By Their Leader, The Last Of The Brave"
Editor-in-Chief Abdellatif Mansour said in independent French-language weekly Maroc Hebdo (11/12): "Is it still good to be an Arab? Of course, one cannot shed one's genetic-ethnic clothing with complete impunity...which is all that remains of your own culture when all else has been forgotten.... Arafat, who placed the Palestinian cause at our disposal is no longer at our disposal. We risk not having a cause anymore to justify the fact of being Arabs. The Palestinians will not become Scandinavians, as Ariel Sharon is demanding in exchange for their safety. But they could decide to become simply Palestinians, resigning themselves to live and die in silence in their miniscule Territories. The only recourse we’ll have to console ourselves about our atrophied identities will be Jacques Chirac, the last leader of the Arab state."
UAE: "Arafat Kept Idea Of Palestine Alive"
The expatriate-oriented English-language Gulf News maintained (11/12): "History has generally been kind to resistance leaders and in the case of Yasser Arafat it might be kinder still. For sheer staying power alone, Arafat stood with the best of them from any epoch.... The generous view...is that after being wedded to the cause for 37 years, since 1967, Arafat had succumbed to the all-too-human feeling that he was Palestine. Despite Arafat's heroic struggle, vested interests, specifically the far right in Israel, used every trick in the book to stop him from getting any kind of deal for the Palestinians.... Arafat stayed resolute in the face of mounting Palestinian deaths.... To be sure, many Palestinians who desperately wished him success were also candid enough to accept his failures. Arafat was faulted for failing to handle infighting by various Palestinian groups, take a tougher line against corruption and encouraging cronyism. Many have also questioned his accomplishments, given that even the roadmap remains in limbo. Despite all this, the reality is that Yasser Arafat kept the very idea of Palestine alive.... As the outpouring of grief and respect among Palestinians everywhere...shows, Arafat will be remembered for bringing the Palestinian issue to centre stage...and keeping it there.... And the calm, dignified manner in which Palestine's new leadership has been put in place Mahmoud Abbas as head of the PLO and Farouq Al Qaddumi of Fatah, joining incumbent Prime Minster Ahmad Qorei is proof enough that the struggle will continue until Palestinian statehood is realised. That will be the greatest tribute the world can pay Yasser Arafat."
The English-language expatriate-oriented Khaleej Times noted (11/12): "Yasser Arafat is dead. A colossus has departed from the world stage.... Arafat's most obvious contribution was his success in catapulting the Palestinian cause on to the world stage and keeping it there until he himself departed from this world. Through sheer grit, resolve, hard work and heroic commitment, he put the Palestinian question on the world's agenda.... Arafat's fierce and fearless championing of the cause, through the bloody trenches of Beirut to the corridors of power around the world, transformed the Palestinian struggle into a legendary resistance movement, which evokes sympathy, respect and support of the international community.... Little wonder then he inspired unprecedented love and loyalty among his people.... What is most tragic is that the Palestinian leader was not able to lead his people finally to the promised dawn of freedom.... But does that make Arafat a failure? Answer to that would be a resounding 'no' from thousands of defiant Palestinians.... The Palestinian leader's success lay in making the free Palestine a cause of every Palestinian and every human being on the earth who loves freedom. Arafat's success lies in the fact that although he's dead, his cause is far from dead."
AUSTRALIA: "Change To Get Back On Road To Peace In Middle East"
The liberal Age of Melbourne editorialized (Internet version, 11/12): "Whether the so-called road map to peace can be resurrected in its existing form remains to be seen. This may depend largely on the eventual make-up of a Palestinian leadership that is still being determined. More fundamentally it will depend on the willingness of those involved to renounce terrorism as a tactic and to acknowledge Israel's right to exist. Mr. Arafat had been prepared for more than a decade to accept the reality of the latter, while his standing on the former was at best ambiguous. Israel, for its part, will need to accept Palestinian statehood. That much is implicit in Israel's recognition of the road map. Israel must also resist the temptation of seeking to influence Mr. Arafat's succession.... The role for the U.S. in this process is clear. It has sufficient influence to play the role of broker between the two sides and this will be a real test for the second Bush administration…. The two-state solution encompassing a secure Israel and a Palestine that is territorially workable is the only viable path to a lasting peace in the Middle East. Both sides must learn to trust their neighbors, they must show courage beyond that found in conflict. Mr. Sharon has said before it is not in Israel's interest to govern Palestinians. He must match that rhetoric with actions beyond a partial withdrawal from the occupied territories. If Palestinians truly want to honor the memory of Mr. Arafat, then they must move beyond terrorism as a means to achieve an end."
Official Renmin Ribao (People's Daily) declared (11/12): "Arafat was unable to build a completely sovereign state in the modern sense and departed from this world, which was extremely regrettable. But people believe that the Palestinian people can certainly follow in Arafat's footsteps, and continue to walk the road of peace. There will always be a day when Arafat's unfinished cause can be achieved."
CHINA (HONG KONG SAR): "Arafat Fails To Escape The Fate Of Being Suppressed"
Mass-circulation Chinese-language Apple Daily News remarked (11/12): "Struggling for existence on the brink of death, the Chairman of the Palestinian government, Yasser Arafat, died yesterday. The Palestinian government will hold a state funeral today to mourn for the leader who has sought building a Palestinian state for over 40 years. In the meantime, Palestinian people are filled with sorrow over the death of Arafat, but they are not taking any radical actions, nor are they launching any attacks. We hope that the Palestinian self-government and the Palestinian people can continue to remain calm. Under the situation of a great disparity of strength, any attack by the Palestinian people will only incur tough suppression from Israel and Arafat's dream of establishing a Palestinian State will be even harder to realize.... Arafat and the Palestinian people he represented have indeed been 'the weak' for the past 50 years; they have been homeless and suppressed. Arafat did not manage to get rid of this fate, even when he died. It should be a big regret for him."
"Bush Should Facilitate Palestinian-Israel Peace Talks"
Independent Chinese-language Ming Pao Daily News declared (11/12): "Will Arafat's death generate a new reign of terror in Palestine and Israel, or will it bring about a new opportunity for peace? To a large degree, it will depend on whether U.S. President Bush's conscience is affected. As a close ally of Bush, British Prime Minister Blair has already suggested the main topic of today's bilateral meeting should be the Palestinian-Israel issue. He seems to be looking to help Bush find a way out of his predicament. Bush also said that he wants to pursue the establishment of the Palestinian State and Middle East peace in his second term. If the Middle East peace process can be resumed after Arafat's death and both Palestine and Israel can return to the road map for peace, is that not also a key to counter international terrorism?"
"The End Of Arafat's Era: The Road To Peace Is Hard"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Ta Kung Pao declared (11/11): "The core of the Middle East issue is conflicts between Palestine and Israel. These conflicts are complicated and long lasting. Violent activities in this region are most active. Arafat spent his whole life seeking Palestinian-Israel peace. Nevertheless, he died without accomplishing this task. At this time, people should pay attention to the internal unity of Palestine. While mourning for Arafat, Palestinian people should be rational and unite together for the sake of their people. They should stop any chaos and violence and quickly return to peace talks. The U.S. and Israel should show that they have come to understand thoroughly and they must make necessary concessions. They should take actual and sincere actions to untie the knot of Palestinian-Israel conflicts. This is the only way that peace can be returned to the Middle East and the world. The international community and particularly the Islamic countries in the Middle East should actively promote Palestinian-Israel peace talks because peace in Palestine and Israel will benefit the Arab countries and tranquility will return to the turbulent Middle East."
JAPAN: "Avoid Internal Chaos"
Liberal Tokyo Shimbun noted (11/12): "Despite criticism of his tolerance for corruption, the late Arafat enjoyed great popularity among the Palestinian people. However, he arrogated power to himself and failed to nurture any successors. His biggest oversight was to allow Israeli Prime Minister Sharon to abandon peace efforts. Palestine, under the new collective leadership led by new PLO Chairman Abbas, should not tolerate acts of violence by Islamic fundamentalists. The international community must do its utmost to resume peace talks. President Bush must also act as a fair mediator between Israelis and Palestinians."
Liberal Mainichi editorialized (11/12): "The death of the charismatic Palestinian leader could lead to further conflict in the Middle East. It is vital that all parties concerned resume peace efforts. We would urge both Israel and Palestine to exercise self-restraint in order to avoid possible confusion created by the post-Arafat vacuum. Meanwhile, the U.S. must cooperate with the international community in dealing with the Middle East issue. President Bush needs to initiate mediation efforts based on the Middle East Roadmap. The international community should use Arafat's death as an opportunity to bring peace to the region."
"Opportunity For Middle East Peace"
Liberal Asahi editorialized (11/12): "Yasser Arafat was the only person to unite the Palestinian people and tell the world of their plight. However, his overwhelming influence and obstinate position on Palestinian independence limited Middle East peace efforts. He also defiantly rejected criticism and failed to deal with corruption. The international community should use the death of the self-righteous politician as an opportunity to revive the Middle East peace talks, which are on the verge of collapse. There are many kinds of political groups among Palestinians--ranging from radical terrorists to moderate centrists. They should immediately stop their internal disputes and include participants from a wide range of sects in a new political framework. Meanwhile, Israel should agree to hold negotiations with the Palestinians if Arafat's successor shows sincere efforts to eliminate terrorism. Israel must also stop its oppression of the Palestinian people. Members of the global community, including the U.S., the EU and the U.N., need to make a concerted effort to put the Middle East peace process back on track."
"Turning Point For Palestine?"
Top-circulation moderate Yomiuri insisted (11/12): "Palestine now stands at a crucial moment in its future. Following Arafat's death, the formation of a collective leadership led by former Prime Minister Abbas and current Prime Minister Qurei is likely. Filling the 'political vacuum' left by Arafat is the key to Palestine's future. The new leadership must take an unyielding position on radical terrorists in order to gain international support. The loss of Arafat is an opportunity for President Bush to exercise leadership in restarting the Middle East peace process."
INDONESIA: "The World In Sorrow, Arafat Leaves Giant Work"
Leading independent Kompas commented (11/12): "Tragically, Arafat himself did not have a chance to witness the establishment of the Palestinian state he fought for. The Palestinian issue feels absurd because it is the only former colony that has not successfully established an independent country. After World War II, former colonies were made free countries, including Israel in 1948.... The future of Palestinian’s struggle will be determined by a figure who will take the leadership chain from Arafat. Not less important is the support from all the Palestinian people. Whoever replaces Arafat, the new Palestine leader is expected to finish and complete their struggle. Of course history will keep remembering us of Arafat because he deserves to be remembered and kept in mind.”
"The World Cries For Arafat’s Death"
Muslim intellectual Republika argued (11/12): "It is Abu Ammar’s enthusiasm and fighting spirit that the world is crying for. Not only by the Palestinian but the world community, who want peace, justice, and a prosperous life. The world community that is free from colonization, oppression and tyranny. With the death of Abu Ammar, the world has lost a figure whose life gave inspiration to colonized countries to fight against oppression and colonization.... Now, the symbol of struggle to fight against oppression and colonization is gone. However, Palestine and other nations that want freedom, justice, and the world peace will inherit his enthusiasm and fighting spirit.”
Government-influenced Utusan Malaysia declared (11/12): "Even though Yasser has left the Palestinian people forever, his courage and good will have become eternal motivation for the Palestinian people to deal with Israel.... Without Yasser, we fear that Israel will exploit the current situation in Palestine."
PHILIPPINES: "Likely To Give Way To More Violence"
The liberal Today said (11/12): "If Arafat, who has been hailed by the Western world with no less than a Nobel Prize, could not achieve Palestinian statehood through peaceful means, what chance is there that his successors in the Palestinian Authority would be more successful? His death is likely to give way to even more violence, contrary to the expectations of the Zionist leaders of Israel and their American sponsors. For years, the likes of Ariel Sharon had looked forward to Arafat’s elimination from the Middle East scene. Now that they’ve got what they wanted, they may soon realize the wisdom behind the adage 'Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.' As the Israelis will."
"No One Can Predict Where Palestinians Are Headed"
The editorial of the independent Philippine Star read (11/12): "Arafat died yesterday with peace still elusive in the Middle East, and still without a homeland.... The wounds of the Palestinian struggle continue to fester in the Arab world. The U.S. and some of its allies have tried to detach the conflict from the war on terror. But there is no denying that Islamist terrorists keep invoking the plight of the Palestinians in justifying each deadly attack on innocents. And there is no denying that peace in that part of the Middle East could contribute to world peace. With the passing of Arafat, no one can predict where the Palestinians are headed."
THAILAND: "Palestinians Brace For The End Of An Era"
The independent, English-language Nation said (11/11): "Arafat’s impending demise could intensify problems, or it could herald a fresh start… Much will depend on how the main players--Israel, the various Palestinian factions, Arab countries and the U.S.--react.... The Palestinian people also suffered because of the corruption and cronyism that flourished under him and because of his administrative incompetence.... As a result, radical militant groups such as Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad have become the principal providers of education, medicine and other social services neglected by the Palestinian Administration, making them contenders for an assumption of power in the event of a succession crisis.... There are now numerous groups waiting to step in, most of which are identified with one of the two main Palestinian factions: the PLO’s old guard and the indigenous population of the West Bank and Gaza that waged the first intifada. In the immediate wake of Arafat’s death.... Abbas will chair the Palestine Liberation Organisation, while Querei will run the Palestinian National Authority. Both men are pragmatists interested in reaching a deal with the Israelis, but they don’t have the popular support to give up long-standing positions on territory.... Other contenders to assume the leadership eventually include Mohammed Dahlan and Jibril Rajoub, the former security chiefs in Gaza and the West Bank, respectively. They are controversial figures among Palestinians, but have a relatively good rapport with Israel and Washington. What they lack is the over-arching legitimacy and popular support of Arafat.... The best way to resolve this would be through elections, which would invest a new leadership with legitimacy.... Another advantage of elections would be to provide a good basis for Israelis and Palestinians to resume a dialogue.”
INDIA: "Adieu, Arafat"
The pro-BJP right-of-center Pioneer opined (11/12): "Yasser Arafat was so many things in his life that, in death, the warts-and-all man can scarcely be separated from the inspiring myth. A hero, a god, a living legend to his uprooted people, he fathered Palestinian nationalism. Yet he was also international terrorism's first patriarch, head of an armed struggle who perfected the chilling art of using hijackings and hostage-takings as public relations. Besieged at the end of his life, he was Israel's bugbear whose tattered aura found tragic reflection in Ramallah's ruins. Yet he was the man with the pioneering vision to recognise Israel's right to exist-and coexist with Palestinians.... His Janus-face cannot yet rob Arafat of the world's homage. There was a constant in the maze-like twists and turns of his life: 'Married to Palestine,' he could never be accused of infidelity to his cause. Reviled as an extremist or lauded as a moderate, Arafat had an unexceptionable goal. He may not have lived up to the historic charge for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize. But his legacy will forever be associated with his four decade-long stewardship of a just struggle, and his untiring spokesmanship for the diaspora he empowered in spirit if not in body. Countless Palestinians feel their aspirations and hardships would have been forgotten by the world had it not been for Arafat. Even his inability to finally deliver has not eroded this faith. His true measure can perhaps be gauged in the very uncertainty that dogs the succession question. His replacement will have to walk the rocky road to a peace that has so far proved elusive, all the while treading cautiously to avoid sell-out accusations. More, he will have to succeed where Arafat faltered, by making a genuine pledge to achieving Palestinian statehood without winking at terrorist bloodbaths. With Arafat gone, the Palestinian movement will be perceived as headless, and thus run the risk of being hijacked by the forces of Islamic radicalism. Standing guard is not merely the responsibility of the new Palestinian leadership, but also the global community. Arafat's demise once again reminds the world that lasting peace in the Mideast cannot come till the Palestinians find a home--and Israel feels secure at home."
PAKISTAN: "Yasser Arafat’s Death And His Incomplete Mission"
An editorial in second-largest Urdu-language Nawa-e-Waqt read (11/12): "Although Yasser Arafat was the founder and the moving spirit behind the Palestinian cause; he backed out from this cause by signing the Oslo Accord. He remained silent on the U.S. attack, occupation and bombardment of Iraq perhaps because he did not want to lose the little U.S. support that he had. However, it can be said that Arafat did nothing else except fight for the Palestinian cause throughout his life; he avoided aligning himself, through words or deeds, with any Muslim issue or movement.... However, his death has created a vacuum that cannot be filled. He has left his mission, whatever its worth, incomplete."
"End Of An Era"
Karachi-based center-left independent national English-language Dawn declared (11/12): "Yasser Arafat has fought his last battle.... An era has ended in the epic history of liberation struggles. Arafat's death removes a major actor from the world scene and throws open the big question about the future of the Palestinian movement, especially its leadership.... He had made his enemies accept the principle of a Palestinian state with Al Quds as its capital, and this was a great achievement for a leader who had to fight for his cause single-handed. With the sole exception of Fidel Castro, he was on the world scene longer than any of today's leaders, with his military uniform and the kaffiyeh becoming a symbol of the Palestinian people's will to fight on. Israel may now deny him his right to be buried in Al Quds, his birthplace, but it cannot deny Mohammad Abdel-Rawf Arafat al-Hussaini his place in history."
"Iconic Yasser Arafat"
Center-right Urdu-language Pakistan thundered (11/12): "Debate will continue for a long time on whether Yasser Arafat attained his objective through the establishment of the Palestinian Authority or not, but what he gained is before the entire world and Arafat should not be ashamed of it.... The fact is that Arafat fought alone to free Baitul Muqaddas from Israel; had the OIC, Arab League or the Gulf Cooperation Council lent any support in this struggle, at least Arafat could have been buried in Jerusalem. The world is today facing the reaction of the treatment it meted out to the Palestinians and Arafat. The spirit of resistance could not be quelled even by restricting Arafat to his headquarters. This resistance is visible not only in Israel today, but also America, Russia, France, Spain, Holland, Turkey, Indonesia and Pakistan. This resistance has been termed terrorism, and a war is going on to crush it. Only history will prove whether this form of resistance--suicide attacks--is legitimate or not, but it has become the world’s greatest problem today."
KAZAKHSTAN: "Truth Of Life And Miserable Thirst For Death"
Sergey Kozlov wrote in pro-government weekly Novoye Pokoleniye (11/12): "Of course, Arafat has been neither an angel, nor an altruist. Israelis in many respects are absolutely right when they consider him responsible for a terrorist war against them. In this war, as in any other war, everyone has their own truth, which, however, can’t justify cruelty and innocent victims.... But now we are talking not about that, but about the play around an ill and dying person, whose opinion already could not affect the course of this war, nor the actions of his supporters. A person who, despite all blame, continued to be honest and consistent throughout all of his life. He will forever remain a symbol of struggle of his people, as well as an eternal enemy of another people, who once also achieved its goals using terrorist acts, explosions and assassination of political opponents.”
SOUTH AFRICA: "Symbolized The Struggle"
The liberal Star observed (11/12): "Yasser Arafat, loved as a freedom fighter and reviled as a terrorist...is dead. And even in the throes of death, he was as enigmatic as in life as rumours abounded about his condition in a Paris clinic.... He nevertheless symbolised, like Mandela, the struggle of a tragic people dispossessed of their homeland through the machinations of countries like Britain."
MADAGASCAR: "A Different Dimension"
French-language pro-government Les Nouvelles opined (11/12): "Terrorist that he was, Yasser Arafat took a different dimension to international politics by giving his compatriots a real and sovereign state on the historical ground of their ancestors."
TANZANIA: "Middle East Deserves Lasting Peace"
The independent English-language Citizen commented (11/12): "What next? That is the question on many a lip now that Yasser Arafat, the icon of Palestinian national aspirations, is dead.... Arafat remains a man without a country, never having really realised his long-cherished dream of Palestinian' statehood.... He was a survivor himself, escaping death in a plane crash, surviving many assassination attempts by Israeli intelligence agencies, and recovering from a serious stroke.... Arafat had been invariably described as the stumbling block to the peace process in the Middle East. Now that he is gone, a befitting way to honour him is for all peace-loving people in the Middle East to chart the way forward. For Israel, peace is what most of its people want.... In the dusty refugee camps in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, Arafat will be remembered as a nationalist and liberator, whose heroic deeds forced the world to pay attention. His legacy has been to put the Palestinian cause on the map. Those due to step into his shoes must make his dream of an independent state of Palestine come true. This means a state that will live at peace with its neighbours.”
"The Middle East Is Poorer"
The English-language state-owned broadsheet Daily News observed (11/12): "The President of the Palestine Authority, the icon of the Palestinian cause, Yasser Arafat, is no more.... It is a sad ending of an illustrious Third World hero. With Arafat’s death, the world has not gained. It has lost. The Middle East is not wealthier either. It is poorer.... Arafat...dedicated the whole of his life to the liberation of his homeland.... It is very sad he has died without seeing the lofty dream come true. To Palestinians, it is an obvious big loss. Arafat cannot be replaced.... Arafat’s adversaries have told the world they are better off without him.... But they will sooner or later realize how indispensable Arafat was in the Middle East peace process. They might soon face terrible difficulties in having a negotiated political settlement without Arafat. It is shameful Arafat’s adversaries never hid their hatred.... Arafat has died a great leader who cannot be belittled.... The best way of honoring Arafat by Palestinians is to avoid jostling for power. That should be the last thing to do. They should pick from where he has left. They must ensure a smooth transition and carry on until the world sees to the Middle East an independent Palestinian state co-existing with Israel.”
UGANDA: "U.S. Must Now Back Moderates"
The state-owned New Vision editorialized (11/12): "Yasser Arafat has died in Paris.... Arafat was controversial. The Israelis condemned him as a terrorist, while many middle class Palestinians were frustrated with his indecision and lack of managerial skills. Israel hated Arafat believing he supported suicide bombers. Unfortunately Israel’s reckless aggression helped the Palestinian extremists gain support. The Bush administration shares the blame in this regard because it has gave tacit approval to almost every Israeli attack and did not try to enforce the Middle East roadmap to peace. President Bush has been signaling that it might be possible to resurrect the roadmap towards Palestinian statehood now that Arafat is gone. This is too simplistic. The issues are far bigger than one man alone. Nevertheless, it is vital that the United States now intervenes to try and support moderation on both sides: in Palestine, it is important that power passes smoothly to the hands of veteran PLO leaders like Mahmood Abbas; and in Israel, the hardliners should be discouraged from disrupting the smooth transition of authority in the hope of crushing the Palestinian state for all time."
CANADA: "Death Of A Dreamer"
Foreign affairs analyst Eric Margolis observed in the conservative tabloid Ottawa Sun (11/12): "In waging his epic struggle, Arafat made many grave mistakes. He was autocratic, allowed corruption to flourish, and always secretive. His management of Palestinian finances may well blow up into a tawdry scandal tarnishing his reputation. He was seen even by Arab admirers as too foxy and clever by half. But without Arafat, Palestinians would have remained a phantom, forgotten people. He led them to within distant sight of their own Promised Land."
"Arafat's Death Leaves Void"
The conservative Halifax Herald editorialized (Internet version, 11/12): "To the end, Yasser Arafat remained an enigma. The Palestinian leader had long promised his people a proudly independent state; he left them humiliated in a dangerous, impoverished ghetto. Mr. Arafat won the Nobel Peace Prize for extending an olive branch of peace to Israel; he lost any standing with the U.S. administration for launching a bloody, doomed-to-failure intifada that left his would-be country a shambles. But despite it all, despite the vast corruption and mismanagement, the autocratic rule that destroyed an emerging Palestinian middle class and the refusal to share power with moderate associates who sought an end to failed policies, Mr. Arafat somehow retained an image among Palestinians as a beloved father figure. He seemed never quite able to give up being the Palestinian revolutionary, even when circumstances and the aspirations of his own people cried out for a statesman. His legacy will reflect that he built Fatah, the main Palestinian resistance organization, and long led the Palestinian Liberation Organization, but also that he often chose violence instead of accommodation, difficult, to be sure, with his lifelong enemies. Mr. Arafat's death leaves a dangerous void, a foreseeable consequence of his refusal to cede power or appoint a clear successor. In a worst case scenario, rival power factions now competing for influence in the Palestinian territories may ignite a civil war. But Mr. Arafat's passing also brings hope, that the new era dawning may include a road to true peace."
"Yasser Arafat's Ultimate Failure"
The leading Globe and Mail opined (11/12): "Above all things, Yasser Arafat was a revolutionary.... But...he was unable to deliver what [the Palestinians] wanted and needed most: a country. It was a tragic, unforgivable failure for which he himself bears the primary blame. First, give him his due. Mr. Arafat put the Palestinians on the map.... What he failed to do was convert that currency into real gains for his people. It has been said of the Palestinians that they never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Mr. Arafat proved it again and again.... All Israel's fault? Mr. Arafat always said so. But no nation should be expected to give in to a movement that is devoted to its destruction and whose tactics include blowing up buses full of innocent people. Though Israel is hardly without fault, the onus lay on Mr. Arafat to show that he was a serious partner in the pursuit of peace. He never did.... By far the greatest failure of his career came in the summer of 2000. At the Camp David talks with U.S. president Bill Clinton and Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak, Mr. Arafat had the opportunity of all opportunities. I srael made it clear that it was willing to accept an independent Palestinian state on most of the West Bank and Gaza, with a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem. Mr. Arafat said it was not enough and walked away.... Mr. Arafat's world view remained unchanged through five decades. The Israelis were interlopers in the Middle East who had stolen Palestinian land. The only answer to that injustice was to defeat and eject the interloper and take the land back, either through armed struggle or appeal to international opinion. And the struggle must continue until total victory, whatever the cost. It is that mindset that post-Arafat Palestinians must overcome. Israel exists. It has a right to exist. Whatever the injustices of the past, Palestinians must accept that fact. 'Politics,' Mr. Arafat himself once said, 'remains the art of the possible and must not be based on the spirit's preferences and chimerical dreams.' Ever the revolutionary, always the warrior, Yasser Arafat never put those words into practice. His successors must."
"Farewell Too A Terrorist"
The conservative National Post editorialized (11/12): "Everything about Mr. Arafat was fraudulent--from the lie that he was born in Jerusalem, to his absurd claim that the Jews have no historical connection to that same city, to his numerous empty oaths to renounce terror. But no lies were more destructive than the ones he told his own people. Thanks to Mr. Arafat, Palestinians lived in a world of make-believe in which Israel's Jews could be driven into the sea through terror, refugees who had festered in camps for half a century would one day reclaim properties in Tel Aviv and Haifa, and Mr. Arafat himself would march into Jerusalem a conquering hero."
"Time To Revive Mideast Hope"
The liberal Toronto Star commented (Internet version, 11/12): "As Palestinians gather today to bury Arafat, and to ponder his failure to deliver the state he promised, they can honor [Arafat's] memory by building the peace with Israel he pledged in 1993, before he let terror bombers subvert that noble project. If the Palestinian state is to rise one day, it must rise from a foundation of peace. The chants of 'Death to Israel' that echoed in Palestinian areas yesterday were not hopeful signs. Nor was the burning of American and Israeli flags, and the vow by Hamas extremists to attack the 'Zionist enemy.' They were stark reminders that Palestinian leaders must urgently nurture a spirit of tolerance, realism and compromise in their people. But hearts need changing on the Israeli side, too. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's aide Dov Weisglass recently described Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and part the West Bank as a bid to 'prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state' by closing off the peace process. That would be a disaster.... It must be reversed, not institutionalized. U.S. President George W. Bush sees Arafat's death as 'a significant moment,' and rightly so. The new crop of Palestinian leaders...all advocate a negotiated, two-state solution. If Israel can deal with any Palestinians, it is with men like these. While Bush envisaged a viable Palestinian state by 2005, he has been disengaged for too long. That must change. He must urge Palestinians to rally behind Arafat's successors in the coming days and weeks, to avert a slide into chaos.... But Arafat's successors will need help weaning people from violence. Bush should press Sharon, too, to ease the military and economic pressure. To reroute Israel's security fence. And to dismantle settlements. And Bush can push both sides to reopen peace talks. Palestinians must shun terror, of course, once and for all.... As long as Israel's security is in doubt, Palestinians will remain stateless. But Bush must urge Israelis, as well, to come to terms with a Palestinian state that includes a capital in Jerusalem's Arab districts and which covers most of the now-occupied areas. That was what former prime minister Ehud Barak offered, knowing that Israel's best security lies in peace."
"What Comes After Arafat?"
Judith Colp Rubin commented in the conservative National Post (Internet version, 11/11): "Arafat's death poses a...threat...[that] as potential candidates jockey for leadership in a post-Arafat era, most will see adopting a hard-line view against Israel as an asset. Promoting actual attacks on Israel would be seen as a sure way to enhance a group's stature, as well as to promote unity among Palestinian groups by directing violence outward in the uncertain period following Arafat's death. Rather than engage in complex and divisive debates about nationalism versus Islamism, moderation versus militancy, the best form of government, or who should be picked as leader, all disagreements could be subsumed in a wave of anger, hatred and violence directed against Jews.... Of course, there is another possible scenario for Israel in light of Arafat's death: a new and more moderate leader could emerge ready to make a peace deal.... But the ability of moderates to do anything in reality--like making a full effort to stop terrorism--whatever their good intentions, is going to be limited for some time: with passions running high over Arafat's death, their main short-term priority will be to protect themselves and prevent the Palestinian territories from sliding into violent anarchy."
J. M. Pasquini Duran remarked in left-of-center Pagina 12 (11/12): "The death of Arafat...will reduce to a minimal expression the number of emblematic leaders of the second half of the 20th century.... Even his opponents will have to acknowledge that he personified the Palestinian cause, set it in the international scene and sustained it in spite of the huge difficulties he met; he had to fight against adversaries from within and out of the Palestinian-Israeli labyrinth. This kind of leadership cannot be replaced, regardless of the fact that those who succeed him could do a more perfect work. The pain of tens of thousands of Palestinians speaks itself of the magnitude of the loss, even taking into account the critical points of view on Arafat's management and leadership."
BRAZIL: "A Cursed Person"
Center-right O Globo editorialized (11/12): “Arafat’s most concrete legacy is a paradoxical abstraction: the sense of identity that he, with his energy and leadership ability, instilled in the Palestinians...the aspiration for an independent state--internationally recognized as a right, thanks to him. But Arafat died covered with the civilian blood he willingly shed, making him a cursed person in eyes of history. One of his unforgivable mistakes...was the use of terror as an instrument of political pressure. Judging by the violence of the Intifada...the olive branch he took to the UN in 1974 never extinguished the hatred symbolized by the empty holster he carried on that occasion. As Lady Macbeth would say, not even all the perfume from Arabia would take the smell of blood from his hands.”
"A Golden Opportunity For Peace"
Independent Jornal do Brasil commented (11/12): “Arafat’s death, seen by Bush and the Israeli government as the greatest obstacle to the end of conflicts in the Middle East, opens up a golden opportunity for peace in the region. On the Palestinian side, it all depends on the ability and precision with which the acting leaders can raise the spirits of the people now that they have been exacerbated by the emotion of having lost their charismatic leader. It takes willpower, authority and the (right) disposition to restrain the extremists who lean toward violence. On the Israeli side, peace can be hurried if Ariel Sharon manages to interrupt the construction of the West Bank settlements.... These are huge challenges, to good will and action. Coexistence with Israel has to be included in the list of priorities of the transitional Palestinian Government. It is a priority that should be approved of by the moral authority of the UN and its effectiveness should be guaranteed by the U.S. government and the European Community leaders. The rest is just a promise of violence that ignores the road to peace.”
Liberal Folha de S. Paulo noted (11/12): "Yasser Arafat's death left the Palestinians without a leader that symbolizes their fight for an independent state, but it may paradoxically energize peace negotiations that have been stalled since the failure of the Camp David summit in 2000.... Now there are new [peace talks] possibilities. According to the best scenario the division of power agreed upon between Mahmoud Abbas and Ahmed Qurei will permit the election of a renewed and moderate leadership capable of repelling terrorism and resuming peace negotiations. In the worst hypothesis, the Palestinian power will be fragmented among several groups, thereby making impossible any agreement."
"New Opening For Peace"
Center-right O Estado de S. Paulo opined (11/12): "The Arafat era is over.... But success of both the post-Arafat era and the fate of this opening will depend on Israel and the U.S. as much as on the Palestinians.... A long and certainly rough road will have to be covered even by Israelis who wish a viable Palestinian state and by those Palestinians who believe that terrorism is a moral offense and a political mistake.... Even so, this course must be taken without delay.... It is more likely that the future Palestinian Authority president will be a moderate than a radical.... With the inauguration of Arafat's legitimate successor, Israel and the U.S. will have the 'peace partner' they said Arafat never was."
CHILE: "The Future Of The Palestinian Cause"
Government-owned, editorially independent La Nacion editorialized (Internet version, 11/12): "The passing of Yasser Arafat, who will rest finally in the land for whose autonomy he fought for so many years, opens a stage in which the entire world will be hanging on the actions of his successors in the Palestinian National Authority and certainly, on the attitude which the government of Israel will adopt in a situation in which there will no longer be their old adversary. It will be very important that [that there be in] the post-Arafat era a cohesive Palestinian leadership that turns to a realistic platform with open consciousness of what is necessary to garner legitimacy both with its own people and with the international community.... We hope that peace and the dream of autonomy finally arrives in the land of Arafat."
COLOMBIA: "Courage And Obstinacy, Legacy Of Arafat"
Medellin-based, center-right El Colombiano editorialized (Internet version, 11/12): "One day after the death of Yasser Arafat the history of the Palestinian people could change as long as their leaders follow some of his teachings and forget others. An opportunity to examine the horizon and realize the dream of a Palestinian State.... Loved by his people and hated by his adversaries he provoked as much affection as fear in the entire world. Modern history placed him in the gallery of global icons. He inscribed the cause of the Palestinian people in the international political agenda.... The Palestinian State is a legitimate cause of the Palestinians and international community thanks to this symbol of courage and obstinacy. Events are developing.... If the vote favors [Mahmoud Abbas as successor], maybe there will be advances towards peace, now that the main obstacle for Israel has ceased to exist."
JAMAICA: "Hope After Arafat?"
The moderate, influential Jamaica Gleaner had this to say (Internet version, 11/12): " Arafat's sudden departure from the machinations of Middle East politics, coming shortly after President Bush won a second term...opens up hope for a new approach to peace in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Much will depend on whether an interim Palestinian government is made up of moderates like Ahmed Qurei and Mahmud Abbas who will support the rule of law and suppress the militant left. This will allow Mr. Ariel Sharon, prime minister of Israel, to hold out an olive branch by agreeing to an exchange of prisoners and speeding up the removal of Jewish settlers in the Gaza Strip. In this scenario, President Bush, having won re-election, can be more even-handed in pursuing his 'two state' policy and if the Palestinian/Israeli conflict shows signs of being resolved this will go a far way in ensuring peace and stability throughout the region."
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