When Yasser Arafat passes away in the next day or two, barely a tear will be shed. Arafat leaves this life having backed himself completely and utterly into a corner and has no one to blame but himself for his failings and the miserable leadership he has offered his people. Arafat has been rejected by his own people, rejected by the international community, and rejected by his own wife if her four years living it up in Paris is any guide.
Arafat is the architect of Intifada, mark I and II, and has shown that he is a man who can only communicate through terror. Given the historic opportunity to create a homeland for his people, he looked in horror as he realised he would have to lead a peaceful state rather than a terrorist rabble and turned back. Arafat has shown that those who use terror can never be decent civic leaders.
Ariontheweb subscribes to the "Fucked Over Twice" theory of why the Palestinian mindset is as it is: the Palestinians have been fucked over by the Israelis who live in fear and paranoia and so hit out, sometimes irrationally, at the Palestinians. More significant, though is the second fuck-over: the Palestinian people have been fucked over by their own leadership, primarily Arafat. The people have a government of crooks, cronies, liars, thugs and psychopaths who offer no leadership or positive vision and so lead their people to a life of squalor and desparation. This is no accident, of course. The Palestinian leadership use this squalor to demonise the Israelis and the Americans, who are presented in the Palestinian propaganda rags as the cause of all these ills.
What happens after Arafat's death is highly debatable:
In the short term, there was be instability and internal conflict within the PA. There will be conflict between rival factions, rival leaders and rival gangs keen to make a killing, literally, in the chaos. Despite the fears in Israel, this will be short lived. Sooner rather than later a leader will emerge from the uncertainty and assert themself - most likely will be Abu Mazen, ex-Prime Minister, a moderate.
In the longer term, Arafat's death will be a great help to achieving a lasting peace. His successor will have greater legitimacy that Arafat did, will be welcomed at the negotiating table by Israel and the Quartet (remember them?), and will not have the murderous creditials that Arafat did. A tick in every box.