Last updated on: 5/16/2008 3:41:00 PM PST

Will Yasser Arafat's absence from Palestinian politics help advance the peace process?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
George W. Bush, MBA, US President, in a Nov. 11, 2004 statement released by the Office of the Press Secretary, said the following:

"The death of Yasser Arafat is a significant moment in Palestinian history. We express our condolences to the Palestinian people. For the Palestinian people, we hope that the future will bring peace and the fulfillment of their aspirations for an independent, democratic Palestine that is at peace with its neighbors. During the period of transition that is ahead, we urge all in the region and throughout the world to join in helping make progress toward these goals and toward the ultimate goal of peace."

Nov. 11, 2004 - George W. Bush, MBA 

PRO (yes)

Robert Satloff, PhD, Executive Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, in an Nov. 22, 2004 Weekly Standard editorial titled "A Democratic Palestine," wrote the following:

"The most likely scenario in the immediate aftermath of Arafat's passing is Palestinian political stasis... But with the passage of time, all is likely to change... In the end, Arafat's death opens up vistas of opportunity for Palestinians brave enough to act. Washington should help them take advantage of this opening."

Nov. 22, 2004 - Robert Satloff, PhD 

Dennis Ross, PhD, former US Envoy to the Middle East under Presidents Clinton and George H.W. Bush, in an Nov. 12, 2004 USA Today editorial titled "Arafat's Death Can Breathe Life Into Peace Process," wrote the following:

"Though Arafat's death will create emotional upheaval for Palestinians and the risk of a violent struggle to fill the void, it may also create circumstances that make the emergence of a new era possible. Having sought an alternative to Arafat, the Bush administration must now act to create an environment in which those Palestinians most committed to coexistence have the best chance to lead the Palestinian people to a more hopeful future."

Nov. 12, 2004 - Dennis Ross, PhD 

Silvan Shalom, LLB, Israeli Foreign Minister, as quoted Nov. 11, 2004 by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

"Our region, after Arafat, has turned into a different region, and in my view, will be a better region."

Nov. 11, 2004 - Silvan Shalom, LLB 

David Makovsky, MA, Senior Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, in an Nov. 9, 2004 San Francisco Chronicle editorial titled "A Window of Opportunity," wrote the following:

"Arafat's passing from the scene is the best hope to revive the stalled Middle East peace process. The actions taken by all sides, including the Bush administration, at this critical juncture can help shape this new reality."

Nov. 9, 2004 - David Makovsky, MA 

CON (no)

Benny Morris, PhD, Professor of History at Ben-Gurion University, in an Nov. 12, 2004 New York Times editorial titled "A Difficult Visionary, a Stubborn Vision," wrote the following:

"Mr. Arafat was probably the only Palestinian of our time, given his historical and political stature, capable of persuading the Palestinians, or most of them, to accept the concessions necessary to achieve a two-state solution. On the other hand, his successors -- Mahmoud Abbas, Ahmed Qurei and some of the younger Fatah leaders -- may be more amenable to a territorial compromise but they lack the stature to intimidate or persuade their people to accept a two-state settlement or to crush their terror-minded colleagues. So Yasir Arafat's death may have done us no good at all."

Nov. 12, 2004 - Benny Morris, PhD 

Robert Fisk, PhD, award winning Middle East Correspondent for Independent, in a Nov. 16, 2004 Independent editorial titled "Death, Delusion and Democracy," wrote the following:

"So the death of Yasser Arafat is a great new opportunity for the Palestinians, is it? The man who personified the Palestinian struggle -- 'Mr. Palestine' -- is dead. So things can only get better for the Palestinians. Death means democracy. Death means statehood. That the final demise of the corrupt old guerrilla leader should be a sign of optimism demonstrates just how catastrophic the conflict in the Middle East has now become... The reality is that the outlook in the Middle East is bleaker than ever."

Nov. 16, 2004 - Robert Fisk, PhD 

James Zogby, PhD, Founder and President of the Arab American Institute, in a Dec. 19, 2004 Znet online magazine article titled "An Opportunity? Why Arafat's Death and Bush's Second Term Won't Help" wrote the following:

"Despite repetition, their [U.S. policy makers] mantra, 'with Arafat's death and Bush's reelection a unique opportunity now exists to achieve Middle East peace' is not only insulting-it is wrong and dangerous

This mantra is wrong because it ignores the many unchanging realities that continue to impede the path to peace. It is dangerous because by ignoring these realities the policymakers and analysts are merely raising expectations that they will not and cannot fulfill.

Clearly what is implied by this 'unique opportunity' is the view that Arafat was the major obstacle to peace and that with his passing that impediment has been removed. Only now, it is assumed, a new and more moderate, i.e. accommodating, Palestinian leadership will emerge that will stop violence and accept Israel's terms for a settlement...

These two assessments are wrong, ignoring as they do the many factors that stood in the way of peace"

Dec. 19, 2004 - James J Zogby, PhD