Chaos feared in the Middle East
Yasser Arafat was isolated at his head quarters in Ramallah for two and a half years. At that time, Israel showed little interest in negotiating with the Palestinian president. Little indicates that this now will change.
Henriksen Waage said she does not think the situation will become any easier for the Palestinian leaders who are now taking over after Arafats death.
Election in 60 days
According to Palestinian law, the spokesperson for the national assembly, Rauhi Fattouh, will act as interim president until Arafats successor is elected within the next 60 days. However, the actual power will lay with Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia and Mahmoud Abbas, secretary general in PLO. Henriksen Waage said it does not promise much for the future.
«It is difficult to imagine that anyone with so little legitimacy will be able to create an uniform leadership,» Henriksen Waage said to TV 2 Nettavisen.
Henriksen Waage is researcher and acting director of the International Peace Research Institute, Oslo.
She stressed that Abbas and Qureia have support from less than two percent of the Palestinian people. Even if Arafat was a controversial leader, he still had support in a much larger percent of the population. It will therefore, most likely, be difficult to organize an election to appoint his successor.
«Now that Arafat is gone, so is the glue,» Henriksen Waage stated. «The Palestinian society will be even more fragmented.»
According to Henriksen Waage, Qureia and Abbas find themselves in a «Catch-22». In order to get more legitimacy, they have to include such radical groups like Hamas and Islamic holy war in the process, but if they succeed in doing so, they will immediately get problems with Israel.
«Then the Israelis will not negotiate with them,» Henriksen Waage stated.
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