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Last Updated: Saturday, 30 October, 2004, 14:41 GMT 15:41 UK
Absent Arafat leaves press in limbo

With Yasser Arafat now installed at a military hospital in Paris, Saturday's papers in the Palestinian territories and the wider Arab world ponder the implications of his enforced absence from the Middle East.

Two Palestinian commentators are keen for Mr Arafat to return home as soon as possible.

But a London-based paper urges the Palestinian leader to prepare for the future by paving the way for power to be handed over to a successor.

Palestinians are tightly bound to Arafat. They were looking forward to his safe return even before he went to Paris... Come back to us, come back. All the hearts which you brought together are with you.

Commentator Ahmed Dahbur in Palestinian Al-Hayat al-Jadidah

The Palestinian people's fervent hope is that Arafat will return from Paris soon. He belongs to all Palestinians, not only to Al-Fatah.

Commentator Yusuf al-Qazzaz in Palestinian Al-Hayat al-Jadidah

Arafat the sick is stronger than a healthy Sharon... We do not know the nature of Arafat's illness, nor do we know how long he is going to be away from his homeland. What we do know, though, is that with his illness... he is like the legendary phoenix which burns itself down to ashes and rises again.

Editorial in London-based Arabic paper Al-Quds al-Arabi

Arafat was secluded, humiliated and threatened... However, the Israelis and the Americans were and still are in a predicament, because they cannot convince the world that Palestinian people do not exist, that their land does not belong to them and that it has not been occupied. The Israeli-US predicament has only one name: Arafat.

Commentator Abd al-Wahhab Badarkhan in London-based Arabic paper Al-Hayat

The time has come for Arafat to be told, after his recovery, that God is one and there is no God but God. Let there be someone to replace you, because the saying which goes "After me, disaster" is not suitable for a leader with such a lengthy history. His people deserve a clear future on their leader.

Commentator Hafiz al-Barguthi in London-based Arabic paper Al-Sharq al-Awsat

May God heal Arafat - he is still the symbol of hope and unity for the Palestinian people.

Editorial in Egypt's Al-Ahram

The deteriorating health of the elected and legal Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, has proved his high position and major role in finding a peaceful solution to the long-lasting conflict between the Palestinians and the Israeli land-grabbers.

Editorial in Egypt's Al-Jumhuriyah

The new generation will always remember Israel as being responsible for Arafat's illness... after he was turned into a captive and forced to live in a small dark room since 2001.

Commentator Sati al-Nur in Lebanon's Al-Safir

After Arafat arrived in Paris, there were contradicting reports from Israel on the government's stand on Arafat's future, and whether he should be allowed to return after he recovers. After all, Israel will not be forced to keep its promises, and it can make any excuse to prevent Arafat's return.

Editorial in Saudi Al-Jazirah

The fear is not for Arafat's health or death but for Israel's future, which may be filled with more blood if the popular rallies in Palestine and Israel continue to back the elements of the extreme right. Why did such potential not show itself during Arafat's siege, when he talked on behalf of every Palestinian?

Editorial in Saudi Al-Riyadh

In his latest pictures, Yasser Arafat appeared like a small child, missing the world and people. But what he wants most is more years, so that his eyes do not close with his hopes of establishing a Palestinian state shattered.

Commentator Zuhayr Majid in Oman's Al-Watan

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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