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Leadership Issues Complicate Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

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October 31, 2004

Leadership Issues Complicate Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict face uncertainty as the leadership of both Ariel Sharon and Yasser Arafat is called into question. Sharon's parliamentary victory for his proposed plan to remove 25 contentious settlements in Gaza and the West Bank has landed him in hot water with his own Likud party. Several key ministers have accused him of betraying Israeli interests and have vowed to force him to step down.

In an address to the Knesset, Sharon stated that controlling 1.3 million Palestinians living in Gaza to assure the safety of 8,000 settlers undermines Israel's claim to democratic principles. He also suggested that removing the settlements would lead to more open negotiation with the Palestinians. Nevertheless, Palestinians are watching Sharon's moves with some skepticism as some critics argue that his actual intention is to stall the peace process.

Meanwhile, the poor health of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has led to speculation on the likelihood of his death. While some accuse him of standing in the way of the peace process and hope for greater progress after his death, others warn that the diverse groups he has united could grow increasingly fragmented. With no obvious successor to replace him, the vacuum left by his death may add to the already significant internal conflict within the occupied territories.

The stability of the Palestinian authority will ultimately depend on whether or not Israel allows a strong leader to emerge. It is feared that the Israeli right-wing desire to maintain a state of uncertainty may prevent the establishment of a unified Palestinian leadership.

Nathan Lepp

» Christian Science Monitor: Sharon stakes job on pullout

» Jerusalem Post: Far-Right promises to make PM's life hell, launch civil revolt

» Christian Science Monitor: Palestinians consider life after Arafat

» The Economist: The end of the Arafat era?

» ISN Security Watch: Arafat's bad health aggravates succession crisis

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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