Palestinian Leader

Yasser Arafat Dies

* Palestinians began 40 days of mourning yesterday after the death of their longtime leader, Yasser Arafat, 75.

For four decades Arafat tried to create a Palestinian country in the Middle East, but he never saw that goal achieved.

He was a controversial man, beloved by his own people as the symbol of their fight for independence. But to create a Palestinian homeland he needed land that is now part of Israel. He carried out attacks against the Israeli people that made many people hate him.

In 1994 he shared the Nobel Peace Prize with two Israeli leaders, then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and then-Foreign Minister Shimon Peres. But they couldn't keep peace between their people.

Arafat, who had been very ill for at least two weeks, died early yesterday at a hospital in France. His body was flown to Egypt for a funeral today. He will be buried in the West Bank, a piece of land a little smaller than Delaware. The West Bank was considered a possible site for a Palestinian homeland, but violence that broke out in September 2000 stopped those discussions. Arafat's death may help restart the peace talks.

Because Arafat didn't pick a successor, some now fear a power struggle among his followers.

Yasser Arafat's funeral is today.