Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is suffering from a brain haemorrhage and is in a critical condition in a Paris hospital, a top Palestinian aide has said.
Officials at the hospital near Paris where Mr Arafat is being treated had said earlier that his coma had deepened.
Several senior Palestinian figures, including Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei and Mr Arafat's deputy, Mahmoud Abbas, visited the hospital on Tuesday.
Do you see this as a crucial moment for the Palestinians? How do you envisage the future of the Palestinian leadership? In the event of Mr Arafat's death where do you think he should be buried?
We will be discussing these issues on Sunday 14 November at 1406GMT in our global phone-in programme Talking Point. If you would like to take part please include your phone number with your comment. Your phone number will not appear on the website.
This debate is now closed. Thank you for your e-mails. The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received:
I continue to read about all Arafat has done for the Palestinian people. He has two billion dollars in the bank that he could have used to help them! I feel sorry for those Palestinians who put their trust in this man and I hope the next leader can do a better job of working toward peace.
Past history dictates that there will be eulogies aplenty for someone who is, when all is said and done, a terrorist who knocked back a golden opportunity for his beleaguered people after Camp David. Perhaps his imminent demise will open doors for his more enlightened colleagues to finally come to terms with realities on the ground, also that some of the billions of dollars stashed away in Arafat bank accounts (IMF estimates) will find their way back to the Palestinians who need them. Suha Arafat has a lot to answer for. If I were a Palestinian I would be asking some serious questions about her life of luxury in France. Yasser Arafat should either be buried in Cairo (his actual birthplace despite his claims otherwise) or in the Gaza Strip where other family members are buried.
Alex Walter, Sydney, Australia
The world is moving into a phase of fewer leaders and Palestine not having a follow-up leader is just a sign of this happening. Palestine should now fall under the rule and protection of the U.N. This body seems to have the welfare of ALL people in mind. Politicians just create divisions that would normally not exist.
Black Morris, Africa
It's funny how so many people hope for a moderate after the passing of Arafat. Where is the call for moderation on the Israeli side?
Abdullah, San Diego, USA
Mrs Arafat is experiencing the hardest moment of her life seeing her husband fighting for his life. My prayers and heart go to the Arafat family. No matter what he has done in his life, the whole world will still appreciate that he once was a great man.
Cecilia, Lilongwe, Malawi
This man has a lot to answer for but I hope he passes away in peace and that this can be a turning point in Palestinian leadership and eventually peace.
One thing is clear from these comments coming from all sides: Arafat is far from being irrelevant, as he and his cronies caused so much pain to so many.
Jamil Baroody, Jeddah, Arabia
At times when almost all Palestinians had lost their hope for the future, Mr. Arafat was their ray of light, their hope of a better future, and a symbol of their resistance. Many may not agree, including I, with his opinions, decisions, and practical politics, but one has to admire and respect his courage and his dedication.
Sepand Siassi, Toronto, Canada/Iran
The Guy is a terrorist - good riddance - maybe peace in the Middle East.
P. Hosford, Canada
Israel should go ahead and destroy the rest of Arafat's compound in Ramallah before it becomes another site for the worship of an evil man who didn't have the courage to make peace. His life while profitable for his family was a failure in that he couldn't ever negotiate a peace for his people.
Robbie, Colorado, USA
Isn't it funning how on one hand folks want the US president to be strong, aggressive, and conservative, and are suggesting on the other hand, the next leader of Palestine should be moderate. How convenient!
N Difon, Maryland, USA
Arafat may have given the Palestinians a voice, but the only word it seemed able to utter was "no". He turned down every peace offer for 40 years. His legacy is one of poverty and chaos with no plan for how the future leadership of his people is to be managed.
John R Smith, UK
This is a crucial moment for the Palestinians in the sense that who will succeed Arafat. I really wish moderate people to take over such as Abu Mazen. He and his team, better than any other, can manage a compromising policy that would be accepted to the Palestinians. Mrs Arafat's behaviour lacks attitude and responsibility.
Yaqthan Chadirji, Baghdad-Iraq
How tragic for the impoverished Palestinian people that their cause is held hostage by an ailing man who clung to power far longer than was in their best interests. Now Arafat's wife is making yet more outbursts which do only harm. Surely one can see that ensuring an orderly transition from a comatose patient to his successors does not constitute a conspiracy to bury him before he is dead because even if he survives, he is not fit to continue in power.
KJ, London, UK
One thing is clear from these comments coming from all sides: Arafat is far from being irrelevant, as Sharon and cronies boasted some time ago.
Oscar Lima, Brighton, UK
Whatever Arafat has done in his life, rightly or wrongly, he is now simply a man that deserves the right to spend his last hours in peace and dignity with his wife and family. I'm not surprised his wife reacted the way she did, no matter how naive an action that was. Have we lost all concept of human decency that we cannot spare a family a few days of space and dignity at such a sad time?
This man is responsible for the plight of my people. No doubt the $1bn in PLO coffers would be better off invested in providing adequate infrastructure for my Palestinian people. His passing will offer us clarity and a way forwards.
Rahman Azib, Ramallah
With Ariel Sharon in power there can be no peace. Arafat has many, many faults true but his Israeli counterpart is no better. Time for a new leadership on both sides.
Look at the state of Palestine today: poor, miserable, hopeless and desperate - worse than ever before. This is Arafat's sad legacy.
Tatiana, London, UK
Arafat is not responsible for the current situation between Israel and Palestine, and I have my doubts that the opportunity to provide fresh leadership will fix things. Remember, regardless of who the Palestinians choose to lead them, they must still find an Israeli that is willing to work with them for peace.
K. Bennett, Indiana, USA
Yasser Arafat has never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity. He had an (almost) perfect peace opportunity offered but he rejected it over the last few percent, let him explain that to the widows and children of the Intifada on both sides.
Yasser Halim, London
It doesn't matter the for's and against's for Mr Arafat, he is an elderly sick man who should be allowed the peace and sanctity his years and his struggle should allow. Much has been done in the history of man in the name of religion - wars and conflict mostly, oppression and persecution, read your history and see the litany of fear, repression and sadness it has created. Let his eventual passing permit a future of peace for the Israelis and Palestinians, not a spiral down into war and anarchy. Long live the spirit of freedom for a nation he fostered and let the new generation live in hope for the future.
Nick Kirk, UK
In decades of his rule, Arafat brought Palestinians only death and misery and improved nothing. He just wanted to stay in power and the media spotlight for his own benefits and has covertly incited the breeding of hate and extremism among young Palestinians, even in their educational system, to keep the situation as it is - the one that's keeping him in power.
Al, Zagreb, Croatia
There is no doubt Arafat was a great revolutionary. But like most great revolutionaries he proved to be a bad politician. He thrived in conflict but lacked the wisdom to create peace with Israel. He lived a frugal life but led a very corrupt system. I hope there is smooth transition of power to the current PLO leadership, that seems to be more moderate and have a cleaner image.
Saurabh Chandra, USA
With Ariel Sharon in power there can be no peace. Arafat has many, many faults true but his Israeli counterpart is no better. Time for a new leadership on both sides.
Mrs Arafat has every right to castigate those arguing over where her husband should be buried and should not apologise for her statements
Zahrah Nasir, Murree, Pakistan
The current crisis in Palestinian politics is almost totally the fault of Mr Arafat. His wilful failure to either appoint a successor or establish and hand over power to some sort of accountable democratic leadership sadly typifies Middle Eastern leaders, among many others. Although optimism is a luxury where the Middle East is concerned, I am quite hopeful that the Palestinian leadership in waiting can deliver an independent Palestinian state if the Palestinians people allow them to.
Brian, Yorkshire, UK
From BBCArabic.com: All Palestinians see him as a leader and a symbol of our struggle. I think that there has been no other president throughout history who had to face the pressure that Arafat faced.
Hassan Al Ubeidi, Palestinian territories
From BBCArabic.com:The absence of Arafat will be a good test for the Palestinians to exercise self-rule. I hope that by solving their differences quickly, all Palestinian factions can unite.
Maha, Bethlehem, West Bank
From BBCArabic.com:I pray to God that he will let me live to see a true democratic election of an Arab leader. Arafat is no different from other Arab leaders, be they dead or alive. Democracy is the only solution to all the problems of Arab countries, without exception.
Al Maqdesi, Jerusalem
I cannot help but have sympathy for a man who has suffered alongside his people for many years. He stood by them and lived with them throughout the devastation that Israel has caused them over the many years. My thoughts are with him and his family and I hope that one day Palestine can be a free country again.
Palestinians over the age of 50 have not known a leader other than Arafat, the behaviour of Suha Arafat as well as the rush to Ramallah by Mahmoud Abbas indicates that Palestinians should do better in choosing future leadership after Arafat. Some argue Arafat was not corrupt but he excels in corrupting those around him. It is time for Palestinians to disappoint Israelis as well as other ill wishers and demand free elections to select a clean fresh leadership which can lead them out of these difficult times.
Muhanad Nabulsi, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
As a Jew, and supporter of Israel, I do not like Mr Arafat. However, I fear, as he is now seen no longer to be in active control, that there may be conflict amongst the people he has led for so many years. If this weakens Israel's foes, I see this as good, but I also fear for the ordinary people. The whole situation is fraught with danger for everyone in the region, I just hope that cool heads lead to sensible decisions, and peace.
Mike Solomons, Harrow, UK
I have been impressed by the behaviour of the Palestinian leadership and wish them well. This contrasts with the Arafats who seem to treat Palestine like some sort of private fiefdom to be manipulated and exploited at will. This sums up Arafat's legacy pretty well I think.
David, Leeds, UK
The reality is that Arafat never allowed a leader-in-waiting; there is no clear successor nor (thanks to extreme short-sightedness from Israel) no experience of normal democracy. Israel needs to ease Palestinians into more and more local then regional government, with increasing self-determination, to avoid a deadly chaotic power struggle.
Mark Aitchison, Christchurch, New Zealand
If Yasser Arafat dies, we'll have another war on our hands. Arafat is the only reason the middle east hasn't done serious damage. My prayers go out to his family and to the middle east if he should die.
Kahlan, Ottawa, Ontario
The question of leadership should be quickly resolved if the Palestinians want to move forward, progress and further legitimize yourselves before the world community. Honour your leaders past and present and do not squabble over who will be. It is the efficiency and honesty of the office that matters and not the person.
Nadir Thomas, New York, USA
The existence of a Palestinian state will be questionable in the absence of Mr Arafat.
Faridul Alam, Tsukuba, Japan
Arafat's greatest achievement is the propaganda machine that he has headed up all the time he has been in power. He has never sought to bring peace just power. It is no surprise that he could not negotiate with Israel as he was unable to negotiate with Jordan when the West Bank was Jordanian territory. He had little or no control over the different terror groups established amongst the Palestinian people. My view is that he privately supported every atrocity as it kept him on the front pages and in the public spotlight. Arafat the peacemaker died years ago - if he ever existed.
Israel's refusal to respect the wishes of Arafat's chosen burial place demonstrates that, once again, they are not interested in peace. My prayers go out to Mr Arafat and his family.
Arafat has been synonymous with the Palestinian struggle for independence. Some would like to blame him for everything that went wrong in that region, but he had people on the other side of the table that are equally or even more responsible for the deaths of so many. No matter what, he is and will be forever the symbol of the Palestinian struggle.
Regardless of whether he is in a reversible coma, Yasser Arafat's reign over the Palestinians is over. The issue for Palestinian officials now is how to ensure his passing doesn't lead to increased anarchy/civil war. The leadership needs to make a peace overture that will grab the attention of the world media and force Israel's protector, the US, to extract a welcoming response from Mr Sharon.
Errol Collinson, Victoria, BC, Canada
With his passing peace will be more likely. But only if the Palestinians can prove they can govern Gaza in peace with itself and without bombing and killing its neighbours. The ball is in their court. Arafat never wanted peace. If he did he had his opportunity when he was offered virtually all he wanted with Clinton and Barak. By not taking it he missed the biggest opportunity on behalf of his people. Since then he has breed hate in his education system and his youth. He must take the major blame.
John, Cheshire, UK
He is a hero to every Muslim. He is a man that could not accept occupation of his country. I hope he recovers.
Ayuub Rajes, Somalia
As Arafat's reign comes to an end it should signal the moderates in the Palestinian movement that now is the time to negotiate peace with Israel and stop the bloodshed.
Peter Del Bourgo, Croton, NY, USA
Arafat is a man with nine lives, so until he has a funeral, I won't believe the news of his death,
Arafat should have had a bit of forethought to appoint someone. Everyone needs a plan B.
Arafat knew how to fight, never how to win.
Whatever people might say about Arafat. He gave Palestine its voice so that their plight could be heard by the various powers since the 60s. One can spot errors in any leader who has led a nation this long. I pray for his health and his well being.
Qaiser Bakhtiari, Minneapolis, USA
Without casting judgement on Arafat, perhaps the occasion of his passing will represent a juncture at which the various parties involved can work on a new peace process. Fresh faces, fresh ideas.
Mike Wells, New York City
Arafat is responsible for all the unrest in the Middle East, for creating a Palestinian problem that never existed. In my view, the world will be better off without him.
He has been a great leader till now and even though he hasn't got that much success in his life, we can never forget all those tries he made to achieve success for his people. May God Bless Yasser Arafat.
Anqa, Oslo, Norway
Arafat is a born fighter. He will fight this war on health and comeback again. He has escaped more than 55 assassinations and I pray that he wins this fight on health and comes back for good of the Palestinian people. He would not let go his life without finding a solution for peace for his people is my feeling.
Prince, Harrow, UK
Arafat has been a substantial barrier to peace in the Middle East. I am now optimistic about a two state solution.
Whether people believe in Yasser Arafat's actions or not, he has proved to be a sincere fighter for the Palestinian cause and kept it in everybody's mind when many people would forget otherwise.
Pat Bradbury, Cumbria, UK
With a collective leadership being the best alternative, it's important that universal amnesty be offered in an effort to unify the different factions like Hamas and Fatah. Al-Jazeera reports that high amounts of accumulated wealth by PA members may make them likely to resist giving up power... due to the fact that they might one day be held accountable.
Matthew Houston, San Marcos, Texas
The least Israel can do to prevent chaos is to allow President Arafat to be buried in Jerusalem. People would probably begin to like them more if they do that.
Fadel, Detroit, USA
Leaders come and go. We as one humanity must strive for peace and justice.
Arafat talked, ate, slept and dreamt independence for the Palestinian people for close to four decades. For death to rob him before this is realised is a bad joke from the cruel hand of death.
Hussein Abdullahi, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
It's never a good thing to see an individual person die, but the hope for peace can finally flourish in Arafat's absence. He flagrantly and recklessly refused to compromise in the pre-Sharon era, which is what led to Sharon's election in the first place. Now, there can be hope for the future.
Aaron, Glasgow, Scotland
It is sad that at a time like this, Sharon has to continue to fuel the conflict by stating that Arafat would not be allowed to be buried in Muslim holy ground in East Jerusalem.
Nick Gaglio, Reston, USA
Arafat's demise will give the peace process the best chance of working. For years he has supported terrorist activities whilst pretending to be working for peace for the people who believe in him.
Though I wish him well, the man belongs in the last century as does Sharon. These relic of the past need to be brushed aside now and new leaders of the future take to the negotiating table.
Robert, London, UK
I won't cry for Arafat if he dies. Every day, since the intifada began in 2000, my family has been living with the near-constant fear that one of us might not come home one evening. I supported Arafat during Oslo - I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt - but no-one shares more responsibility for terrorising the lives of innocent Israelis than him. His failure to appoint a successor is his perfect final gift to Israel - it will help to sow even more seeds of dissension in Palestinian society which will only lead to even more extremism.
David Rees, Jerusalem, Israel
Arafat has singularly failed to deliver to the Palestinians what they desire; he has fed them illusions which have brought no progress but hundreds of dead. Why is he feted when by standing up against Israel has been less productive than co-operation. It is foolish to praise this man, who has sacrificed many lives on both sides for the sake of his own image as an old-left rebel.
Ben Vos, Sussex, UK
I love this man; he has achieved what no other leader could, to control his own population fairly and with great love, whilst also being an icon, a protector and genuinely desiring a peaceful resolution for the pitiful conflict of Palestine and Israel. I love this man, he represents all that I admire in a politician and is one of the last great men who care less for themselves and the hand of immortality so to speak, than they do their kinsman.
Will Brocklehurst, Birmingham
I wish the best for Mr Arafat and it is about time to hand over the control to a much younger and wiser leadership. It is unfortunate that he chose this path that brought misery to the Palestinian people for the last four decades. Yes, I can read many comments blaming everybody else but Mr Arafat. The fact is that he arrived at the end of the road and had not delivered much but pain. Proud people have to know when to acknowledge a failed leadership and move on. Sometimes it has to be done in order to start a new chapter. Good luck this time.
Isaac Mihaeli, Staten Island, USA
I think Yasser Arafat is a good leader of people but perhaps not the greatest of politicians. If he recovers, I think the best chance of peace would be for him to continue as a leader but leave more of the political negotiation to those more suited to brokering a workable deal.
The fact that France was willing to treat Arafat, and that the president even visited Arafat demonstrates that not all Western nations have forgotten what diplomacy is. It is, for the time being, a great insurance against any terrorist attack.
Derrick, Cambridge, UK
As a Palestinian, I never felt that Mr Arafat was the most qualified person for "President" of future Palestine... Yet, my prayer goes to his struggling health.
BK, San Jose USA
Sadly, Yasser Arafat never lived up to the promise he once had. A loser for decades, he let the possibility of peace slip through his fingers time and time again. He accomplished nothing when he could have made the difference. His life must be characterized by the word 'if'. What now, Palestine? Maybe there is an honest Palestinian broker still out there? There has to be. If Arafat's successor is another stumbler, we will see another series of Middle East tragedies.
Mike Bowens, Redmond, WA, USA
I pray that Mr Arafat is able to pull through this illness. In these times of crisis, I fear that his death would destabilise that area all the more and untold amounts of people would suffer. Mr Arafat has been on both sides of this issue, both good and bad from what I have seen, but we need a leader that is established and can move for peace in that war torn area. If, however, it is his time, I pray that God ease his suffering and be with his family and his country and show them the way through these times.
Jarid Lawson, Dallas, TX
How ironic... Rabin died eight years ago on 04/11. Now Arafat seems to be close to joining him. Two great men who believed in peace and rights for both their people to live next to one another. I just hope that anyone taking over Arafat will not waste Arafat's legacy, the way Israeli leaders wasted Rabin's. But may that day be far, far away.
Anthony, London, UK
Arafat never wanted to step aside and made very sure that any other Palestinian that could have done the job was marginalised like Abu Mazen. Had he done the right thing for his people (as opposed to himself) he would have stood down long ago in favour of Marwan Barghouti. I have no doubt that Barak and Barghouti would have reached a deal and that today there would be a viable Palestinian state. Instead, the only successor to Arafat has already succeeded him - Hamas. The bloodshed will continue.
Dan, Hampton, UK
Arafat's condition is just what Israel wants. With Arafat gone the Palestinians will be thrown into chaos and anarchy will take place. All of the different groups will start vying for power with no one group in total control. Hopefully clearer heads will prevail for the sake of the innocent people.
Out of decency, I won't condemn a dying old man for his shortcomings... yet I firmly believe that one day Sharon and Bush will rue the passing of Yasser Arafat. When he does depart this world, Hamas will inevitably consolidate their populist support. Israel is thus left with a populist but hardline movement as Palestinian representative. I wonder if we'll champion democracy at this point?
Qadir, London, England
FromBBCArabic.com: I would like to remind some people that Arafat was elected by the Palestinian people. All opinions polls, which conducted before his illness, showed that he would win any election that could be held now. Yasser Arafat is loved by his people, and there is no way to compare him with some other Arab leaders.
Rifaat Ash-Sharbati, Jericho, West Bank
FromBBCArabic.com:Arafat has been called husband of the Palestinian problem, the president, the symbol, the servant, the father of the Palestinians and so many other names. But we can see nothing done by him to match those names. He is the master of missed chances!
Mohamed Abulyazeed, Cairo, Egypt
FromBBCArabic.com:I am not afraid of what will happen after Arafat, because the Palestinian people have the sense not to let the Israelis kill the Palestinian cause and divide the national unity. And I think that the Palestinian factions will not fight each other for power as some Israelis are predicting.
Mustafa Abdussalam, Cairo, Egypt
FromBBCArabic.com:Arafat should have retired many years ago. But -as with many of our leaders, he couldn't leave power until he was very old. As about him being a symbol, we, Arabs have had enough of empty symbols! Isn't there anyone amongst the Palestinian people who can lead but Arafat? Even as he is struggling in his bed for his life, he is still holding on to power and won't let his people choose another leader! Please let's stop this nonsense and let's learn from the American and European states!
Majeed Hameed, Baghdad, Iraq
I am a Palestinian, I have read so much about the Palestinians and have studied this case for a very long time. I am a great supporter of President Arafat - he has led Palestine through thick and thin. He should at least be given all our wishes for a speedy recovery, he has tried his best to negotiate with the Israelis. I would like to thank him for all his efforts towards Palestine, Palestinians and to all Arabs around the world. He has been a great icon and I would love to wish him a speedy recovery and the best of wishes.
Thamer Mohammad Jaflelah, London, England
Arafat has shown more guts and love for his fellow countrymen than Bush, Blair and Howard combined, yet we still support these three stooges over the disadvantaged, invaded and beaten down. What has become of the West?
Paul Holland, Australia
Perhaps the Palestinians will finally have a true leader, one who looks out for their best interests. Arafat became corrupt. He refused to allow any type of power-sharing. Maybe a new leader can work with the Israelis and see the creation of a free Palestine.
Lawrence, Philadelphia, PA USA
This indeed appears to be quite a crucial moment not only for the Palestinians, but for the world. The chain of leadership that would follow the death of Mr Arafat is not one of strength and certainly leaves itself open to manipulation from outside interests. It could also lead to further turmoil and a direction which could be determined by factions that would further promote violence. We are heading for a defining moment in the Middle East and I am certainly curious as to what the eventual out come will be.
Dashel Gabelli, Tampa, FL, USA
There is little comment today of Arafat's vision for a secular and multi-cultural Palestine. That would have been much easier to deal with than the growing Islamic or Christian fundamentalism we see today - his possible passing should remind us of the many wasted years when the West marginalised him, thus providing the space for more extreme, and more sectarian, perspectives to gain credibility.
Barbara, Belfast, N Ireland
I'm appalled to see people comparing Arafat to Mandela and Ghandi, people who achieved their goals thorough peaceful protest. It's been said that Arafat never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity. The biggest one was when he walked away from the deal offered by Clinton and Barak. [If] Arafat departs from the political scene, he has failed to provide for a peaceful transfer of power. Yet another missed opportunity!
Adam, Philadelphia US
To Bertrand from France: you are right to feel proud of your country. I also felt very happy to know that Mr Arafat chose France to get medical assistance. This tells a lot about the friendship between France and the Palestinians.
The Palestinian may wish to conduct an open elections and choose a new leadership. These elections would probably focus on the relations with Israel. Thus, Israel and the rest of the world will know whether the Palestinian people recognise Israel and accept Israeli civilians' right to live, or whether they support the death culture and the slogans for "martyrdom" which are prevailing under Arafat's reign.
Haggay, Jerusalem, Israel
By having a "just" peace, by having a true independent Palestine in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, a free world can show true honour to this ailing statesman. He never compromised on the "best offer", rather he always believed in "just peace" for the people of Palestine as well as Israel.
Golam R Jamil, New York, USA
Let's hope that when Mr Arafat passes on, as he will eventually, his successor will be able to make and sustain a peace with the Israelis. However, I feel this will only happen if Western powers condemn any terrorist attacks, by Israel or Palestine, equally.
Deborah, Milton Keynes, UK
The Palestinians are in worse shape than they have ever been. I hope the people can capture a truly democratic vision for their future and follow the lead of Indonesia, Afghanistan and soon Iraq as emerging Islamic democracies with market economies. It is tough work, but for the well being of future generations it will be worth it.
Janet, Edmonton, Canada