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Palestinians negotiate life after Arafat

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Palestinians negotiate life after Arafat
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Palestinian groups are redoubling their contacts as the crisis sparked by the worsening health of their critically ill president continues. The Palestinian authority meeting in Ramallah has not gone beyond a truce with more radical groups like Hamas for the moment. Hamas and Islamic Jihad’s demand for a shared government have not been responded to.

The Prime Minister has said nothing about giving the radicals decision making powers in a unified leadership despite pressure from the armed factions, but cabinet minister Saeb Erekat says progress continues: “The National Security Council decided to support the implementation of the plan to restore the rule of law and public order in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and at the same time to continue dialogue with all Palestinian factions”, he said, speaking in the West Bank. A front-running successor to the President, Mohammed Dahlan, is back from Arafat’s hospital in Paris and has presented a letter to the Palestinian leadership from Arafat’s wife, Souha. The contents are unknown, Dahlan not going beyond saying the letter adressed health issues. If this does prove to be Arafat’s final hour he will for the moment be buried in the family plot in Gaza, and the mourning will be long and loud. He is far away, but on every wall and in every West Bank or Gaza street once again, foremost in his people’s thoughts.