Politics, it is said, is a dirty game. As political games go, the Israeli/Palestine issue is perhaps one of the dirtiest. With rules that appear to be non-existent and anger and hatred that run deep in the young and old of both sides of the conflict, it is a situation that even the most open minded activists despair at ever being fairly resolved.

Right in this dirty game is Yasser Arafat. A former terrorist and latterly a statesman. For over thirty years he has fought Israeli occupation of Palestine , principally through violent means – through terror.
Whatever the means of resistance and whatever the particular end, Arafat has been the most visible symbol of the Palestinian struggle.

But now, in the twilight of his days and casting a shadow upon death’s door, the Palestinians must contemplate a future without the most poignant representation of their struggle. Many, particularly the Israeli and US administration see him as a critical obstacle to peace. They have done all they can to undermine his crumbling Palestinian Authority by pressuring him to rein in Hamas and other resistance factions and then not permitting him the resources to do so , even if he were so inclined. Over the last few months, Arafat has been holed up in his residence and office compound in Ramallah in a military containment exercise by the Israelis. His health is diminishing and his grip on Palestinian politics failing.

When Arafat is gone, no doubt there will be a jostling for power. But who can deliver justice to the Palestinians? Who can bring the struggle as far as Arafat has done?

The moderates that diligently brokered peace in Oslo but left frustrated when it became apparent that this was a charade designed to cheat the Palestinians out of ever getting justice for their expulsion, the expropriation of their lands and the genereations of suffering under occupation. These moderates now know that Israel will not concede any part of East Jerusalem, nor the precious water resources. The right to return will not be discussed much less realised.

Unfortunately terror has a place in the mid-east. The Israelis and the Americans realise this bloody truth. Hamas and Fatah have a role to play, if only as the ‘stick’ reinforcing the attraction of the ‘carrot’. Israel is not ready for a just peace , with Arafat gone, the remaining obstacle to peace would be Ariel Sharon – suspected war criminal and Israeli prime minister.

With Arafat gone, how much dirtier will the game get?

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