Daniel Drezner is soliciting views as to whether Yasser Arafat�s death will mean progress for Israeli-Palestinian negotiation. He also has similar thoughts to my own:
Assuming that Arafat’s successor recognizes the futility of the second intifada, one wonders whether, to use a crude analogy, the Palestinians will be to Bush what the Soviets were to Reagan — an implacable foe that was transformed into a near ally after a display of toughness on the U.S. side and a change in leadership on the other side.
Of course, this requires a Palestinian version of Gorbachev.
Who knows? But the U.S. should get involved again here without looking like it�s picking leaders for the Palestinians. In my view, this is an excellent area for the Bush Administration to reach out to Democrats. Bringing in some Clinton-era type, perhaps a George Mitchell, Kenneth Pollock or even Richard Holbrooke, might be a good move for all concerned parties. The broad outline of what a final agreement might look like has not tremendously changed since the Clinton era, the Bush Administration has just taken a firmer stand, mainly due to Arafat. With him gone, peace may be closer. Since the other apparent option is Palestinian civil war, let�s hope for the best.
UPDATE: I agree with Max Boot’s assessment of Arafat:
There has been no more successful terrorist in the modern age. Yet his biggest victims were not Israelis. It was his own people who suffered the most. If Arafat had displayed the wisdom of a Gandhi or Mandela, he would long ago have presided over the establishment of a fully independent Palestine comprising all of the Gaza Strip, part of Jerusalem and at least 95% of the West Bank.