According to CNN, more moderate PLO officials are moving swiftly to arrange an order of succession now that Arafat is in Paris:
Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qorei and former prime minister Mahmoud Abbas have divided the Palestinian portfolio and come to an agreement, the sources said.
Under the agreement, Abbas would become leader, as chairman of the PLO and the Fatah organization, while Qorei would be in charge of the Palestinian Authority and security services, the sources said.
Qorei would recognize Abbas as the main leader who would take over in the event that Arafat is fully incapacitated or dies, they said.
Abbas (Abu Mazen) is the natural choice in order to achieve international recognition. He performed relatively well on the world stage as PM until he was undercut by Arafat. A crossroads has been reached. If Abbas and Qorei are able to avert a Palestinian civil war, then negotiations with Israel will begin again rather shortly (at least on Middle East time), no matter who wins the US presidential election. But if all Hell (or something close) breaks loose in the West Bank and Gaza, obviously we will all have to wait that out. I am one of those, however, who is secretly optimistic that the man and woman of the famous Palestinian street have had enough. Although the Hamas crowd will engage in their usual psychotic behavior, they will not prevail.
The real wild card is the Monster Arafat himself. If he rises from his leukemia (or is it a different blood disease?) death bed, the peace process will be derailed once more. If there’s one thing we know by now El Caudillo Yasser won’t tolerate while he’s alive and semi-kicking, it’s a two-state solution.
UPDATE: Now leukemia is being denied. This AP report is accompanied by a photo of Arafat holding hands with his wife Suha who, for reasons unexplained, never found time to make the journey from Paris to Ramallah for the last three years. Perhaps she’s not a diplomat.