ASK Commentary
November 11, 2004 

The Death of Yasser Arafat

Commentary for November 11, 2004 — Further Leadership Transitions

As I wrote on October 15, 2003 (“Changes of World Leaders”) major nations in the Middle East and the world were to undergo near-term changes in leadership. This was not so much a prediction as my noticing that several leaders of the nations indicated were aging and others were undergoing constitutionally required election challenges of their position and power. Some of those changes have taken place. While the United States has continued its leadership with the majority and electoral vote election victory of President George Bush, the death of Yasser Arafat yesterday marks a significant event. President Bush (speaking correctly, in my opinion) stated:

“The death of Yasser Arafat is a significant moment in Palestinian history. ... For the Palestinian people, we hope that the future will bring peace and the fulfillment of their aspirations for an independent, democratic Palestine that is at peace with its neighbors.”

Quotes About Palestinian Leader Arafat,"
 Associated Press, 11/11/04

The “Roadmap for Peace” promoted by the United States and Great Britain is now viewed as being able to move forward. See my article “Roadmap for Peace in the Middle East.” Yasser Arafat was not a good man, but he was an important man, if for no other reason than he apparently held up progress on a peace process between Israel and the creation of a Palestinian state.

Contrary to his expressed wish Arafat will not be buried at the Al Aqsa Mosque on the Haram esh-Sharif (the false Temple Mount), but rather he will be buried in the town of Ramallah in the West Bank. This decision alone by the governing Palestinian Authority indicates a willingness not to cause undue tension or strife with the Israeli government, who adamantly refused Arafat’s burial on the Haram.

In spite of this, the reaction of Israel has been to go on a war footing as a precautionary measure (Jerusalem Post, 11/11/04: “Police to Raise Alert to ‘War Level’.” The fear is that rioting will break out and spill into Israel, particularly among Palestinians in Jerusalem.

Middle East Peace

Today in an interview Prime Minister Tony Blair of Great Britain said that Mideast peace must be the world’s top priority at this time.

Currently a governing body has selected an interim Palestinian head of government until an elected leader can be voted on in about 60 days. Mahmoud Abbas, the former Palestinian Authority prime minister, was named chairman of the political party, the Palestine Liberation Organization, a post held by Arafat since 1969. It is my guess (and it is only a guess) that Abbas will run and be elected as the leader of the government, the Palestinian Authority. Abbas is considered to be a moderate by Israel and western leaders (someone they can work with), although he has been labeled a terrorist in the past. We shall see if radical parties in the Palestinian political spectrum will allow the process to move forward. Civil war among Palestinians is possible, just as civil war may occur in Israel.

In any case, biblical prophecies make clear that a Palestinian state will be created. See Dr. Martin’s article “The Prophesied State of Palestine” and an article by Jay Gary, “Article from” from May 2001, both of which discuss the particular problems of the region.

The Haram esh-Sharif Is the Key

The problem is the status of the Haram. See the Newsweek quote in Dr. Martin’s article of August 2000 “Ask Commentary on the Temple Mount.” The talks about a Palestinian/Israeli agreement broke down over the issue of control of the so-called Temple Mount. It was the logjam issue that no party could politically and religiously come to a compromise about. It was impossible. Let me reiterate what Dr. Martin indicated several times in his writings:

  1. The key to reduction of strife in the world and particularly in the Middle East, is an accommodation between Israel and the Palestinians which will result in a Palestinian state.
  2. The key to that accommodation is resolution of the status of Jerusalem.
  3. The key to the resolution in Jerusalem is to find a solution over the issue of the Haram esh-Sharif, so-called Temple Mount.
  4. The solution of the Haram esh-Sharif will come through recognition that the site of the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque is the remains of Fortress Antonia and that the Jewish Temples were located 1/3 of a mile south of the southern wall of the Haram.
Recognition by the Jews that the Haram is not the Temple Mount will be a major step toward the solution of other problems. In fact, the other problems will be easy to solve in comparison.

The solution to peace in the Middle East was outlined by Dr. Ernest L. Martin when he wrote about the necessary change in attitude that was prophesied in the Bible. This is in his article “Israel Should Cease Its Military Conquests Post Haste!” That change in attitude (of all participants, not just the Israelis) probably will come to a crisis because of exhaustion of the parties involved. However, the change in heart will come directly from God. The change will come according to God’s timetable — and it will occur precisely on time.

David Sielaff

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