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Last Updated: Friday, 12 November, 2004, 20:33 GMT
Arafat's legacy 'to haunt successors'
BBC world affairs editor John Simpson knew the former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat well. He considers what the future holds for the Palestinian people now he has gone.

Yasser Arafat with followers in Beirut in 1982
Arafat showed great courage during the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon
So chaos and wild emotion have followed Yasser Arafat even to the grave.

He was never quiet, orderly or self-effacing in life, and near-hysteria in the streets was one of his main weapons.

But his greatest weapon was his refusal to give up. No-one who saw him in West Beirut during the Israeli onslaught of 1982 will forget his courage then.

The familiar tag - that he never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity - has been surfacing yet again.

The one he most obviously missed was the deal which President Bill Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak pressed on him in 2000.

But that was their opportunity, not one for the Palestinians. The Camp David deal required too many Palestinian concessions, and it duly collapsed.

His successors will have to look over their shoulders, appealing for his support, even from his newly dug grave
President Clinton left office without his crowning achievement, Mr Barak was trounced at the polls, but the Palestinians were scarcely worse off than before.

Now there will be serious infighting between his successors - not a good time for launching a new peace initiative.

It is one of Arafat's worst legacies, worse even than the rampant corruption and human rights abuses.

His successors will have to look over their shoulders, appealing for his support, even from his newly-dug grave.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See the chaotic scenes as Arafat's coffin arrives



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