PALESTINIAN leader Yasser Arafat's time has passed. He has proven himself unable to make peace, win war, or bring democratic government to his people.
He has been unable to control Palestinian violence against Israelis and has had a hand in fomenting it. He has also made clear that he cannot control violence in Gaza or corruption within his Palestinian Authority. The temporary appointment of his cousin to head Palestinian security revealed how out of touch he is with his people's expectations.
Could he be persuaded to change? Unlikely. He is an old political dog who has not displayed new tricks in a long time. Besides, our own American history shows it is a rare revolutionary who can make peace and run a government. The jobs require different skills, and these days Palestinians want, need, and deserve stability and security.
Even with a leadership change, relief may be a long time coming in Gaza, where more than 200 Zionists want Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to die thanks to his plan to dismantle their settlements there, plus others in the West Bank.
Some Palestinians want the entire West Bank. Some Israelis want them routed entirely from "the land of Israel" as it is outlined in an ancient Biblical text, forget United Nations boundaries. Peace and stability require compromise. It can be graciously reached, which is certainly preferred, or imposed.
If the Israeli government wants peace on its terms, it had better effect it soon. It won't be long before Palestinians outnumber Israelis.
In the meantime, Zionist extremists have been moving to settlements in Gaza to make their removal more difficult. Despite their minority status, they are heavily armed and could wind up pitting Israeli against Israeli in civil insurrection. That nation's nuclear potential makes this a grim prospect.
The killer of former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin came from the ranks of the extremists, and the irony is not lost on Mr. Sharon that he, who also spent his life fighting for Israelis, is now, if not their target, then a person some of them would at least like to see no longer part of the picture.
Both Israel and the Palestinians use violence to assert their mutual disrespect and their respective right to exist. Gaza is reportedly in chaos since Israel announced withdrawal in 2005. In Israel, crime and gang activity are up, and many Israelis are fortifying their doors.
Both sides need relief from their excesses. So does a world which has grown weary of it all.
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