A University of Iowa professor who’s been a legal advisor to the Palestinians says the death of Yasser Arafat “will have profound implications” for the entire Middle East. Adrien Wing, a U-of-I law professor, helped write the legal documents spelling out how Arafat’s successor is to be chosen.”What I’m hoping is that there will be a peaceful transition,” Wind says. “According to the Basic Law — a document that I helped advise on — with the death of the president, the speaker of the legislature is supposed to take over for 60 days until there can be a new election.” Wind says there’s also a Prime Minister on the scene, as well as the head of the P-L-O who is a former Prime Minster. Wind says she’s hoping those two men, and the speaker of the House, can oversee a peaceful transition of power. She says “that’s the best-case scenario. The worst-case scenario in the long-term is civil war among the Palestinians and continued war with the state of Israel.” Wing has been an advisor to the Palestinians for the past 22 years and is personally acquainted with Arafat. Wing says it’s hard to predict Arafat’s legacy, depending in part on whether an independent Palestinian state comes into being in the near future. But Wing says Arafat’s legacy will also be judged differently by the different sides in the conflict. She says to many Palestinians, Arafat was their “George Washington” but many in Israel and the U.S. regard him as a terrorist. “And he was viewed even as very problematic by many Palestinian people who did not properly administrate the Palestinian Authority,” Wing says. “On the other hand he will always be acknowledged as their founding father and it was unfortunate that he did not live to see an independent state of Palestine next to Israel.” Professor Wing also advised the African National Congress in the construction of South Africa’s Constitution.
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