The Dead Arafat Divi…
The Dead Arafat Dividend:

JERUSALEM (AP) – The armed uprising against Israel is a mistake and must end, interim Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said in an interview published Tuesday, signaling his determination to change direction after Yasser Arafat’s death.

Palestinian militants have enjoyed broad support among Palestinians during more than four years of conflict with Israel. Abbas’ affirmation of a somewhat unpopular view comes at the height of his campaign for Palestinian Authority president.

Abbas is the frontrunner in the Jan. 9 election to succeed Arafat as Palestinian Authority president. Abbas, a pragmatist, has the support of Israel and the international community.

While Arafat was still alive, Abbas told associates in closed-door meetings that he felt the uprising was a mistake, but rarely spoke out in public. When Abbas criticized the armed uprising during the launch of the U.S.-backed “road map” peace plan in 2003, he drew sharp condemnation at home.

In an interview with the London-based Arabic newspaper Asharq al-Awsat published Tuesday, Abbas said Palestinians should resist Israeli occupation without resorting to violence.

It is important to “keep the uprising away from arms because the uprising is a legitimate right of the people to express their rejection of the occupation by popular and social means,” Abbas said.

“Using the weapons was harmful and has got to stop,” Abbas said, referring to shootings and bombings by Palestinian militants that have killed hundreds of Israelis since the outbreak of fighting in September 2000.

Those looking for peaceful means to deal with this problem are now able to speak openly. Just another upside to the demise of Arafat.

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