Bondevik thinks the US will be more active
«I feel sorrow that the Palestinians greatest symbol is gone,» said the Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik, to TV 2 Nettavisen after Arafats death was announced. «I will remember Arafat from the many personal meetings.»
Bondevik claims it is crucial that the EU, Russia, and the US get involved in order for the Palestinian leadership to succeed. The Bush administration has for a long time been critical to Arafat, and Bondevik said he thinks Arafats death may get Bush to view the peace process in a different light.
«I think it will become easier,» Bondevik said.
Bondevik said Arafat stood for change by first calling for an armed struggle and then becoming a political leader. Bondevik said the Palestinians and Israel now stands at a crossroad
«I hope the Israeli government relates to the new Palestinian leadership, and that it will blow new life in the peace process,» Bondevik stated.
Bondevik claims the new Palestinian leaders are standing in front of a difficult challenge.
«They will get a very tough job,» Bondevik said. «Hamas has sent out signals which are disturbing. If the new leaders succeed depends to a large degree on the international pressure.»
«The Palestinian people have with President Arafats death lost an unifying leader,» stated Jan Petersen, Minister of Foreign Affairs, according to a press release. «The international society will contribute to ensuring that the election of a new president takes place in calm and correct forms.»
«We will first of all remember President Arafat for his brave decision to quit the guerrilla battle in advantage of the peace process,» Petersen said.
The time for Yasser Arafats funeral has not yet been decided. An inquest and a ceremony will be held in Cairo, before the body of the Palestinian president will be flown to Ramallah to be buried.
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