Mahmoud Abbas Sets Out to be the Un-Arafat

(Wall Street Journal) Bret Stephens - At a campaign appearance by Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, some of the rhetoric is fiery. "Allah loves the martyrs"; "We will kick them [the Israelis] out"; "We have been suffering for 50 years and by Allah all this land will come back to us eventually" - referring to more than just the West Bank and Gaza. But beyond the long-term promises, Abbas issues three short-term challenges. "We won't allow any illegal weapons, and we won't allow people to be armed unless they are Fatah," he says. The statement is a direct challenge to Hamas. "We need clean legal institutions so we can be considered a civilized society," a reproach of his famously corrupt colleagues in Fatah. "We need to make the law the leader in this country, and nobody can be above the law." The reference to Arafat couldn't be plainer. Abbas is Arafat's heir and owes his political existence to the party Arafat founded. Yet his success depends on repudiating much of Arafat's legacy - the cult of personality, kleptocratic government, and terrorism - a legacy that has sunk deep roots in Palestinian culture.

2005-01-12 00:00:00

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