There are reports that Yasser Arafat will step down as head of the PA in the next few weeks. It isn’t quite clear who will replace him temporarily until the new round of Palestinian elections in January.
I’ve oft said that the first step towards peace for the Palestinians is the removal of Arafat. Now that his own people are angry at him for focusing more on Israeli deaths than Palestinian lives, perhaps Arafat is finally reading the writing on the wall. Killing Israelis doesn’t put food in the mouths of Palestinian children. Hatred can only go so far. What the Palestinians want, and what Arafat cannot provide, are jobs, food, and a future. In other words, the Palestinians are like any other people anywhere.
Whoever inherits the Palestinian Authority from Arafat, they’ve got their work cut out for them. The infrastructure of the PA has been focused entirely on producing terorrism, and hardly anything else. The Palestinian economy is barely in existence, and without the help of Israel, there’s little hope of rekindling it. In order to create a better life for the Palestinians, they will have to make peace with Israel, a task which will certainly draw the ire of the fundamentalists and groups like Hizbullah.
Yet these are things which must be done. What the Palestinians need now is a new leader who can bring about peace and start working towards a future in which there can be a viable Palestinian state that can exist side-by-side with Israel. However, that state must not be a breeding ground of terrorism, or a hotbed of fundamentalism. Yet at the same time, if Arafat does step down, the Palestinians will have made their first real step towards a better life for themselves.