He was in the headlines for 55 years, glorified in the fight against Israel and known for violent tactics and hard-line ideology. To some, however, he was a romantic revolutionary, the Middle Eastern counterpart to Communist poster-boy Ché Guevara, and a hero to the Palestinian people. Now, Yasser Arafat's death has left a question mark in the middle of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
With this election, the Palestinian people had the opportunity to claim the future that they deserved: a democratic state in which they could be free to practice their religion, travel wherever they pleased and live in their homes without the fear of bulldozers or civil violence. During his long reign of power, Arafat had many chances to make the Palestinian state a reality, but unfortunately, his refusal to compromise endangered each offer that Israel and the U.S. put forth. It is now up to both Abbas and the Israeli government to cooperate in creating a safer, more stable Middle East.
Since Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon came to power in early 2001, his rejection of Arafat as a suitable partner for peace talks - a boycott supported by the Bush administration - has created a hostile environment furthered by violence on both sides. In a continuing effort to dissipate this violence, Abbas has already come out in opposition of brutal Palestinian terrorist groups, unlike Arafat, who held a reputation as an authoritative nationalist. Abbas must now use his experience and influence to deter the Palestinian people from roads of violence by publicly denouncing groups like Hamas. He must stress the importance of unity, diplomatic action and nonviolent tactics to break the stereotype of the Palestinian people as suicide-bombing, Koran-quoting fanatics.
The last hope for the Palestinian people are the outside, international efforts of the U.S., the European Union and the United Nations. After a summit with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, President George W. Bush exhibited a desire to "establish a Palestinian state...done in four years." As a major power and Israel's strongest, most consistent supporter, the U.S. should use its influence to adopt an objective role in the Israeli-Palestinian struggle, as the Clinton administration did in Arafat's day. Bush has already taken steps in this direction by promising to help Abbas boost security and the Palestinian economy and by inviting Abbas to the White House after years of shunning Arafat.
Other organizations such as the European Union and United Nations should follow in America's footsteps and resolve to force upon the Middle East the implementation of a new and more viable peace process that will put an end to one of the world's longest and bloodiest conflicts. Aid proposals - such as one Bush is considering that would boost aid to Palestine by $200 million - must be steady and sufficient. However, it is important for all organizations to keep in mind that Abbas cannot be portrayed as a puppet of the Western World.
The Palestinian people must keep the hope for peace alive with a newly elected president, cooperation from the Israeli government and support from international groups. With the first steps of the Palestinian people, their long strife can finally be alleviated, peace by piece.
Rocky Hadadi. So, Rocky Hadadi has a very small life. She likes Baz Luhrmann. She likes Rancid. She wants to have John Frusciante's lovechild of guitar solos. Her interests include: meaningful friendships with CAP girls, exceptional Magnet amigos, track suits, aquamarine, Chucks, velvet Docs, painting random crap … More »