Thursday, November 11, 2004

ברוך דין אמת

What is the impact of Yassir Arafat’s death? I believe that it will be profound and the occurrences of the past week can give us some indication as to real changes which might ensue as a result of the removal of Arafat from power.
Firstly Haaretz reported last week that Arafat had requested to be buried on Har HaBayit, and that the Wakf insisted that only they had the jurisdiction to permit or prohibit such action. In the end this was a needless concern as the new PA leadership decided, without a fight, to have the Palestinian leader buried in Ramalah. This conflict avoidance is small, but nonetheless demonstrates a willingness on behalf of the new leadership not to start skirmishes at this young stage. One might argue, however, that the new leadership just does not have the popular support necessary to stage a successful diplomatic campaign to have Arafat buried on Har HaBayit. I could not think of a better way for this leadership to solidify the image of their former leader as both nationalist and religious. Rather they are choosing to show goodwill to the Israelis and not fight for this contentious plot of land. Most importantly however, is that it shows a shying of PA attachment to Jerusalem as its capital. This is a decisive move not to take advantage of the moment and bury Arafat in a moment of diplomatic affluence. Arafat’s grave in Jerusalem would allow for much easier negotiation later that the Palestinians in fact have legitimate claim to the land (esp. the Mount).
Secondly the US has insisted that Israel follow through with disengagement, even after the demise of Arafat. What is the option? Why would Israel not continue onward? I think this is just a rhetoric ploy of sorts, to move forward with the proto-Palestinian state. On the one hand I see this as wariness on behalf of the US to trust the new Palestinian leadership too quickly, on the other hand I think that the world wants to give the PA the chance for a real dress rehearsal before the play. Disengagement will give the Palestinians the chance to show they can operate their own state.
Lastly, we have not seen any moves yet by the “factions” to assume power. Hamas and Jihad have not made any rash moves or pronouncements (which is significant, as Hamas always issues edicts, even if they do not carry though on them). We might be able to hope for a calm transition of power. There is already movement on reform (reform means “reform as directed by the ‘roadmap’” almost always) with the separation of powers and reform of security forces, although it is too early to see if there is any true progress on this front.
All I am saying is that it is encouraging.
Lo yisa goy el goy cherev, lo yilmedu od milchama.
For someone who actually knows of what they speak google Barry Rubin, or just look here.

1 comment:

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