After The Handshake

Mahmoud Abbas and Ariel Sharon were the leaders in the spotlight last week as the Palestinian and Israeli Prime Ministers shared a warm grip-and-grin to launch peace talks. But sidelined Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat retains considerable clout and wants to prove he is indispensable. Abbas, who replaced Arafat at the negotiating table after being named Prime Minister, has secured a cease-fire from Palestinian militant groups. That prompted Israel to begin withdrawals from towns in the West Bank and Gaza. But Abbas faces opposition within his own Fatah faction and must crack down on renegades. To do so, he is quietly working...

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