Al-Ahram Weekly Online   9 - 15 December 2004
Issue No. 720
Opinion
 
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Naguib Mahfouz

Time to act

By Naguib Mahfouz

Soon, the Palestinians will be holding elections to choose Yasser Arafat's successor. The Palestinians are no strangers to elections -- indeed, their experience predates that of a great many Arab states. Arafat was, after all, elected as the Palestinian president, something that Israel tries constantly to ignore. The likely winner is Mahmoud Abbas, aka Abu Mazen, but I am pleased to see other candidates are contesting the post. The voters have a right to pick and choose.

I would like to see the Israelis take this opportunity to resume talks. For the past few years the Israelis have claimed that Arafat was an obstacle to peace. Now that Arafat is gone one wonders what are they waiting for?

Sadly, there have been no signs so far that the Israelis are putting together a scheme to end the bloody turmoil which has claimed so many lives on both sides, which leaves the ball firmly in the court of the United States. The US president has repeatedly said that he intends to find a settlement in Palestine. Now that a new administration is in place there could be no better opportunity for him to move things forward. Washington must be aware that unless it acts the violence will continue.

Based on an interview by Mohamed Salmawy.

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