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Yasser Arafat 1929-2004

The death of Yasser Arafat has just been announced.

His importance as a leader of the Palestinian resistance over the past half century cannot be over-estimated. His methods were not always defensible, and while his presidency of the Palestinian territories in the last decade were a fitting reward for a lifetime of struggle, he really did not have the qualities to manage the conflicts of the past few years.

His treatment by Israel over the past two years has been appalling, and one has to wonder whether his death was entirely due to natural causes.

GW Bush has made a remark distasteful in its timing to say that there is an "opening for peace" with Arafat's death. We must hope that the openings for peace can come anyway. There has been too much hardship and indignity to the Palestinian people over the past 56 years, and too much reliance on the endless revenge cycle, the suicide bomber versus the bulldozer.

BBC Online has an obituary in place. Judith Miller of the New York Times has a lengthy obit. See also Al-Jazeera's English language reports and keep an eye on Technorati for blog coverage.

The Electronic Intifada has posted its obituary.

Muhammad Abdul Rahman Abdul Raouf Arafat al-Qudwa al-Husseini was born in Cairo on 24 August 1929 and died in Paris on 11 November 2004.