November 12, 2004

Arafat Death Will Change Little

Yasser Arafat will be buried today amid renewed calls for the Israel-Palestine peace talks to resume. The truth is though - nothing is likely to change in the near future. There is a deep responsibility on the Israelis now to resume substantive talks; for three years Israel has used Yasser Arafat as an excuse for refusing to come to the negotiating table. Imprisoned in Ramallah, often without electricity, communications or water, Arafat was still blamed as the principal reason for the continued Intifada and suicide bombings. Whatever the truth of that claim - and I personally believe none of it - with Arafat gone Israel's excuse has disappeared. Let's face it, the ONLY way that peace is going to be achieved is through negotiation. Yet, it seems that Ariel Sharon is hell bent on grabbing as much land as he can with his illegal wall before any negotiations ever take place. Will he come to the table and discuss peace or will he stall and wait and see if the new Palestinian leadership will cow-tow to his demands more easily than the last? I suspect the later will be true.