The death of Yasir Arafat in November 2004 has given newly elected PA president Mahmoud Abbas the chance to pursue his strategy of cease-fire (with Israel), reform (of PA institutions), and negotiations (over the Quartet-sponsored road map and final status issues). In assessing the prospects of success for this strategy, the author examines three main obstacles: opposition from Hamas and other Palestinian groups; disunity within Abbas's own Fatah movement; and Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon's agenda, which is totally at odds with the PA's vision of a Palestinian ““state.”” The dilemma facing Abbas is that the final status issues must be confronted as soon as possible if there is any chance for a viable state, but the kind of struggle necessary to negotiate successfully requires thorough-going reform, which takes time the Palestinians do not have.

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