Abu Mazen seems to be heading in the direction of his predecessor by pledging to protect Palestinian gunmen from Israel. Although his statement that "This debt always is to protect them from assassination, to protect them from killing, and all these things they are subject to by the Israelis." may be simply Election sloganeering, it sounds very ominous.
Meeting with Palestinians prior to the elections he told them that "We seek a good and safe life for our people. We want a state of law for the sake of every Palestinian." A state of law where various factions contest territory with AK47s?
The way in which to fulfill the dual aims of protecting Palestinian gunmen and achieving Statehood, thus providing a good and safe life for the Palestinian people is very straightforward indeed; persuade those gunmen to put down their arms, stop their murderous agenda and come to the negotiating table with Sharon.
Circumstances are ripe for the birth of a Palestinian state. It has become almost an inevitability. The only way to prevent it from happening is Arafat's way; plunging the Palestinian people into yet another cycle of violence and despair.