Sunrise at Ramallah?

Our visit to Beijing’s People’s Daily first gives us this sometimes gushing, sometimes accurate, discussion of Yasir Arafat, his “legacy”, and, finally, the prospects for something good to come out of the Israeli-Palestinian situation now that this criminal (my words) is finally dead.
While the early analyses discuss the magnitude of Arafat as a figure (having monopolized all Palestinian levers of power), as the piece goes on, a more “real-politik” approach takes hold of the Chinese analysts, and they point out that Palestinian institutions (including even Hamas and Hizbollah) seem to be behaving in an orderly fashion now, and it is very likely that there will emerge some sort of credible Palestinian leadership. (While I have noted that American opinion couldn’t care less about the situation, as commenter Haggai has noted here, the fact that Israeli public opinion is now shifting toward disengagement, if Gaza if nowhere else, presents a strong likelihood that there will be tremendous pressure for progress within Israeli society. For their part, the Palestinians have announced elections for January 9th to replace Arafat… while we have gotten thousands killed for the fantasy of Iraqi democracy, the reality of Palestinian democracy may result from the death of but one…).
The money line in the People’s Daily piece comes at the very end:
In brief, the end of the Arafat era will place before Arab countries the task of repositioning their relations with Palestine. On the balance of the interests of these countries, the question as to whether post-Arafat Palestine will remain as weighty as it was before still needs to be observed.
In other words, the Palestinians have been used as a political football by Arab governments for decades, much to the delight of (and at the behest of) Arafat. Now that he’s gone… this could change. And that could have overarching implications in the Middle East… particularly now that the United States has insisted on placing its big bootprint smack in the middle of the region. To paraphrase the (IIRC apocryphal) translation of the Chinese character for “crisis”: danger plus opportunity.