Yasser Arafat has survived an attempt by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to persuade the US administration to sever relations with him. That will not make Sharon drop his campaign to render the Palestinian leader ‘irrelevant’. However, along with Arafat, Sharon risks losing what small chances remain for a negotiated solution.
Arafat has told an Egyptian newspaper that in the event of his demise, the Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), Ahmed Qurie, otherwise known as Abu Ala, would act as interim President of the Palestinian Authority (PA), pending new elections. Meanwhile, according to Arafat, his chairmanship of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) would pass to his close associate and central representative in negotiations with the Israelis over the years, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen).