Abbas calls for Arafat's remains to be moved to Jerusalem

Palestinians divided; commemoration in Gaza cancelled

10 November, 19:05

    Abbas calls for Arafat's remains to be moved to Jerusalem Abbas calls for Arafat's remains to be moved to Jerusalem

    (by Aldo Baquis) (ANSAmed) - TEL AVIV - Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas has called for the remains of former leader Yasser Arafat to be transferred from Ramallah in the West Bank to Jerusalem at ''the earliest possible opportunity'' Abbas was speaking in honor of the tenth anniversary of Arafat's death, which will be officially commemorated on Tuesday in the West Bank but not in Gaza.

    The event was cancelled in Gaza due to security concerns after about 15 explosions hit houses and cars belonging to Fatah members in Gaza.

    Preparations in the central Al-Katiba square for the commemoration ceremony were halted on Monday after Hamas announced it would not be able to ensure the security of participants. In Ramallah, a museum is being inaugurated in honor of Arafat's memory and that of the Palestinians' decades-long struggle for freedom. ''Arafat,'' said Abbas, who spent decades at the longstanding leader's side at the upper levels of Fatah and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), ''will remain immortal in the hearts of our people.'' Arafat himself - whose body is currently buried in a mausoleum near the Muqata, the PA headquarters - had often said that he hoped to one day be buried in the perimeter of the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, which is holy to Muslims. Israel is staunchly against the possibility, seeing Arafat as a instigator of terrorism, even though he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 alongside Israeli leaders Yitzak Rabin and Shimon Peres. For very different reasons, Hamas also dissociates itself from him. In 2007 - when Hamas took over Gaza by force - Islamic militants sacked his residence in the Rimal area and threw his belongings into the street to show their contempt for him. For years Hamas has prohibited commemorative ceremonies for the former PLO leader, and instead focused on the Islamic leader Ahmed Yassin, who was assassinated by Israel 10 years ago. This year - given the national reconciliation government launched in June by Rami Hamdallah - Fatah supporters were hoping to finally be able to take to the streets in Arafat's memory. However, after the explosions even PM Hamdallah decided to call off a trip to Gaza on Saturday. Longstanding grudges between Fatah and Hamas remain and the commemoration of Arafat shows once more the painful divides among the Palestinian population. (ANSAmed).

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