Deciphering Post-Arafat Palestinian Politics

(Washington Institute for Near East Policy) Khaled Abu Toameh - The new president will have to prove to the Palestinian people that he is not affiliated with any American institutions or backed by Israel in any way. Any sign of rapprochement with Israel would only serve to lessen his credibility among his own people. Abu Mazen's reputation was damaged in the eyes of many Palestinians after he referred to operations carried out by the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Hamas, and others as terrorism during a speech given at the 2003 Aqaba summit. He is viewed as having conspired against Arafat by staging a one-year political boycott and then taking over the PA after resurfacing on the political scene mere days before Arafat's death. His focus at the moment is on appeasing Hamas and various opposition groups in order to deter militant activities long enough to ensure that elections are carried out on schedule. There will probably not be any dramatic changes on the political level any time soon. Abu Mazen will not - in the near term, at least - sign a peace deal with Israel endorsing what Arafat did not.

2004-12-17 00:00:00

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