WASHINGTON, Nov. 11 (UPI) -- Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's death gives new impetus to Palestinian-Israeli relations and a separate Palestinian state, Middle East policy experts say.
"Arafat's death marks a turning point," said Martin Indyk, director of the Brooking's Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy.
His comments Thursday came at a Washington forum "Palestinian Politics After Arafat: What's Next?"
The new Palestinian era's success or failure depends on actions taken by Israel, the United States, the Palestinians and on the popular legitimacy of Arafat's successor, said Amjad Atallah, president of the Strategic Assessments Initiative and a former member of the Palestinian Authority.
"Palestinians need a majority of legitimacy for any Palestinian leader," he said, adding Israelis must facilitate Palestinian elections.
"Palestinian leadership depends on what Sharon decides to do, but what Sharon decides to do depends a lot on what (President) Bush decides to do," Indyk said.
Bush, who cut off dealings with Arafat, supports the creation of a separate Palestinian state and now has the opportunity to engage directly with Palestinians, said Flynt Leverett, former senior director for the Middle East Initiative at the National Security Council.
"The United States has an important role in the process as mediator between the Israelis and Palestinians, " Leverett said.