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In Memoriam - President Arafat
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12.30.2004

In Memoriam

1929 - 2004

President Arafat

AMPAL Mourns the Loss of President Arafat and offers our sincere condolences to the Palestinian people on the death of President Arafat, the First elected President of the Palestinian Authority

President Arafat, The Man of Peace

Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, left, seal the Oslo accords with a historic handshake before U.S. President Bill Clinton on the White House lawn in 1993. The following year Arafat and Rabin would share the Nobel Peace Prize with Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres.

Leaders mark Arafat's passing

(CNN) -- The following is reaction from international officials and world leaders to the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat:

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said: "The recent events could be a historic turning point for the Middle East. Israel is a country that seeks peace and will continue in its efforts to reach a peace deal with the Palestinians without delay.

"I hope that the new Palestinian leadership ... will understand that the advancement of the relations ... depends first and foremost on them stopping terror."

Israeli Justice Minister Yosef Lapid said: "Arafat missed the opportunity to have peace in the Middle East and a Palestinian state and chose terror as a weapon, not only against Israel but against Western civilization.

"He was the godfather of al Qaeda and of bin Laden. And perhaps we now have a new opportunity to start talks with Palestinians who genuinely want to have peace."

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Arafat would always be remembered for having led the Palestinians in 1988 to accept the principle of peaceful coexistence between Israel and a future Palestinian state.

"By signing the Oslo accords in 1993 he took a giant step towards the realization of this vision. It is tragic that he did not live to see it fulfilled," Annan said in a statement.

"President Arafat was one of those few leaders who could be instantly recognized by people in any walk of life all around the world," he said.

"For nearly four decades, he expressed and symbolized in his person the national aspirations of the Palestinian people."

Annan said that now, "Israelis and Palestinians, and the friends of both peoples throughout the world, must make even greater efforts to bring about the peaceful realization of the Palestinian right of self-determination."

U.S. President George W. Bush said Arafat's death was a "significant moment" in Palestinian history.

"For the Palestinian people, we hope that the future will bring peace and the fulfillment of their aspirations for an independent, democratic Palestine that is at peace with its neighbors. ...

"During the period of transition that is ahead, we urge all in the region and throughout the world to join in helping make progress toward these goals and toward the ultimate goal of peace."

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton offered his condolences to Arafat's family, to his partners in the PLO and to the Palestinian people.

Clinton said history would record that Arafat's greatest moment was on September 13, 1993 when he and then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin shook hands on the White House lawn to sign the Oslo Accords, which led to seven years of negotiation, progress and relative peace.

"However others viewed him, the Palestinians saw him as the father of their nation," Clinton said.

But Clinton said he regretted that in 2000 Arafat missed the opportunity to bring his nation into being.

He said he prayed for the day "when the dreams of the Palestinian people for a state and a better life will be realized in a just and lasting peace."

British Prime Minister Tony Blair extended his condolences to Arafat's family and to the Palestinian people.

He said Arafat came to symbolize the Palestinian national movement and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994, jointly with Yitzhak Rabin, in recognition of their efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East.

"He led his people to an historic acceptance of the need for a two-state solution," Blair said.

"That goal of a viable Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel is one that we must continue to work tirelessly to achieve.

"Peace in the Middle East must be the international community's highest priority."

Blair said the UK would do whatever it could, working with the U.S. and EU to "help the parties reach a fair and durable settlement."

French President Jacques Chirac called Arafat "a man of courage and conviction who has incarnated, for 40 years, the fight of Palestinians for the recognition of their national rights."

Chirac offered his condolences and expressed "in this moment of mourning, the friendship of France and of the French people.

"May this loss unite all Palestinians. By remaining united they will continue to be faithful to Yasser Arafat's memory and will uphold the ideal to which he devoted his life.

"France, like her European partners, will firmly maintain its engagement in favor of two states -- one Palestinian state, viable, peaceful and democratic, and the state of Israel -- living side by side in peace and security."

Israeli Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "The tragedy was that Arafat, who had the power and prestige to move his people to peace, instead moved them and us into a terrible war of terror that cost thousands of lives, Israelis and Palestinians alike.

"This is the man who also pioneered international terrorism, the art of hijacking planes, ships, kidnapping and seizing of hostages and you name it. Which gave birth, of course, to other terrorist groups who emulated him, including al Qaeda."

The Vatican said: "The Holy See joins in the pain of the Palestinian people for the death of President Yasser Arafat. He was a leader of great charisma who loved his people and sought to lead them towards national independence.

"May God welcome in his mercy the soul of the illustrious deceased and give peace to the Holy Land, with two independent and sovereign states, fully reconciled with each other."

South African President Thabo Mbeki said: "It is indeed difficult to accept that the greatest leader of the Palestinian people, Yasser Arafat, with whom we have shared so many trials and tribulations, has ceased to lead.

"History will record that President Arafat epitomized that rare breed of leaders whose lives were defined by the unflinching sacrifices they made in the noble and just cause of the struggle of their peoples."

Australian Prime Minister John Howard said Arafat would be remembered as a leader who failed to grasp an opportunity for peace in the Middle East.

Speaking on radio before official news of Arafat's death, Howard said history would judge him harshly for not having seized the opportunity in 2000 to embrace the offer made by then Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Barak.

Howard said this "involved the Israelis agreeing to 90 percent of what the Palestinians had wanted."

Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri said: "The Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas mourns with pride for our Palestinian people, for our Muslim and Arab nation, the great leader Yasser Arafat. An icon of our struggle and a great Palestinian symbol."

Islamic Jihad leader Mohammad al-Hindi said: "This is a time for unity, steadfastness. We are all one people fighting for our freedom and to liberate our land ... We are looking to see a smooth transfer of authority within Fatah at this stage and later all issues must be discussed including the formation of a unified national leadership or an emergency leadership formed up by all factions."

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi called Arafat "a pioneer who had laid out the foundation for the establishment of a Palestinian state.

"I sincerely hope the Palestinians overcome their sorrow and continue with their effort toward achieving peace and prosperity in the region," he said.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said: "It is with great sorrow and profound sadness that we learned the news about the untimely demise of President Yasser Arafat, a leader of the Palestinian people and a hero to us all. He was the ultimate embodiment of decades of the just struggle of a nation for its undeniable rights to self-determination. A figure much loved and respected not only by Palestinians but also many in the world over, including Indonesia. ...

"In this moment of grief we stand by the Palestinian people and we believe that they would face this loss with courage, integrity and endurance. We share this great loss and we fervently hope that it would instead translate into a renewed momentum for the attainment of independence, freedom, eternal peace, and prosperity of the Palestinian people-in their own country, in their own homeland."

Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar described Arafat as "a great leader who dedicated his life to defend the rights of his fellow Palestinians.

"It is a terrible loss as he had long been a beacon of hope for Palestinians in their struggle to live with dignity," Syed Hamid told The Associated Press.

Malaysia currently chairs the 144-member Nonaligned Movement and the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference.

Mandela: Arafat was 'outstanding freedom fighter'

By Haaretz Service and Agencies

World leaders marked the death Thursday of Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat with a mixture of praise for his dedication to the Palestinian cause and regret for his failure to realize the dream of statehood for his people.

South African anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela on Thursday hailed Arafat as "an icon in the proper sense of the word" and urged new commitment to a Middle East settlement.

"Yasser Arafat was one of the outstanding freedom fighters of this generation, one who gave his entire life to the cause of the Palestinian people," said Mandela, who met Arafat numerous times over the years.

"We honor his memory today. We express our sincerest condolences to his wife, family and the Palestinian people. It is with great sadness that one notes that his and his people's dream of a Palestinian state had not yet been realized."

French President Jacques Chirac hailed Arafat on Thursday as a man of courage and conviction who embodied the Palestinian struggle for a state.

"It is with emotion that I have just learnt of the death of President Yasser Arafat, the first elected president of the Palestinian Authority," Chirac said in a written statement. "I offer my very sincere condolences to his family and to people close to him."

Chirac, who had visited Arafat days before his death, called him a "man of courage and conviction who, for 40 years, has incarnated the Palestinians' combat for recognition of their national rights."

Tears and gunshots, praise and condemnation marked the death of Yasser Arafat, whose fight for the Palestinian cause made him a towering and controversial figure on the world stage.

Arafat's death at a Paris hospital, long expected after he flew to France for treatment of a mysterious illness late last month and soon after fell into a coma, was announced about 6 A.M. in the Middle East.

Powell urges calm
On word of the death of Arafat, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell pledged on Thursday the United States "will do all we can" to help Palestinians achieve peace and urged calm to prevail in the region.

"Our concern remains for the Palestinian people and the realization of the vision of an independent, democratic, viable Palestinian state, at peace with its neighbors, as set forward by President Bush," Powell said.

U.S. President George W. Bush's offered his condolences to the Palestinian people on the death of Arafat.

"The death of Yasser Arafat is a significant moment in Palestinian history," Bush said in a statement issued by the White House. "During the period of transition that is ahead, we urge all in the region and throughout the world to join in helping make progress toward these goals and toward the ultimate goal of peace."

The State Department said Wednesday that Israel must implement Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan despite the death of Arafat.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan was "deeply moved" by the death of Palestinian Arafat and urged renewed efforts by the Palestinians and the Israelis to reach peace, a spokesman said late on Wednesday.

The spokesman said Arafat would be remembered for leading the Palestinians in a "giant step" toward peace in signing the Oslo accords in 1993 and, "It is tragic that he did not live to see it fulfilled."

Annan expressed his condolences to Arafat's family and to the Palestinian people.

The European Union praised Arafat on Thursday for his "single-minded commitment" to the Palestinian cause and pledged to work with the new Palestinian leadership to find peace in the Middle East.

"We will work with the Palestinian authorities and the international community to contribute to realizing the aspirations of the Palestinian people," said a statement on behalf of the EU from Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot. The Netherlands holds the EU's rotating presidency.

Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign policy chief, said the "best tribute" to Arafat would be to renew efforts to implement the 2003 "road map" peace plan which envisions an end to violence and the creation of a Palestinian state.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is expected to press for a Middle East peace push in his meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush in Washington on Friday, said Arafat "led his people to an historic acceptance and the need for a two-state solution."

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said, "Arafat played such a dominant role on behalf of the Palestinians over so many decades that it is hard to imagine the Middle East without him.

Straw will represent the British government at Arafat's funeral.

Putin: Heavy loss
Russian President Vladimir Putin praised Arafat on as "an influential political figure on an international scale."

"It is a heavy loss for the Palestinian leadership, and all Palestinians," Putin said in a statement released by the Kremlin. He credited Arafat with "strengthening friendly relations between Russia and Palestine."

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II expressed condolences following the death if Arafat, who he said "had waged a struggle for decades to uphold the national interests of the Arab people of Palestine," the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.

The Vatican praised Arafat as a leader who struggled to win independence for his people and repeated its support of a sovereign Palestinian state alongside Israel.

A Vatican statement called Arafat an "illustrious deceased" and asked God to grant eternal rest to his soul and peace to the Holy Land.

Chinese President Hu Jintau said Arafat's "death is not only a great loss for the Palestinian people, but the Chinese people also lost a great friend."

Former U.S. president Bill Clinton on Thursday offered condolences to Palestinians but said their leader had missed the opportunity to create lasting Middle East peace in 2000õ

Clinton will not attend either his memorial service or his funeral, the former president's office said.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter called Arafat "the father of the modern Palestinian nationalist movement" and "a powerful human symbol and forceful advocate."

Foreign dignitaries expected to attend Arafat's funeral in Cairo
Egypt will host a military funeral for Palestinian President Yasser Arafat on Friday before he is buried in Ramallah, officials said.

The following is a list of world leaders and dignitaries who are expected to attend the funeral:

AFGHANISTAN - Vice President Hedayat Amin Arsala

ARAB LEAGUE - Secretary-General Amr Moussa

AUSTRIA - Vice Chancellor Hubert Gorbach

BANGLADESH - President Iajuddin Ahmed

BELGIUM - Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht, Development and Foreign Aid Minister Armand De Decker

BRAZIL - Cabinet Chief Jose Dirceu

BULGARIA - Foreign Minister Solomon Passy

CANADA - Foreign Minister Pierre Pettigrew

CHINA - Vice Premier Hui Liangyu

CYPRUS - Foreign Minister George Iakovou, Presidential envoy Vassos Lyssarides

DENMARK - Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller

EGYPT - President Hosni Mubarak

EUROPEAN COMMISSION - Development and Humanitarian Aid Commissioner-designate Louis Michel

EUROPEAN UNION - Foreign policy chief Javier Solana

FINLAND - Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja

FRANCE - Foreign Minister Michel Barnier

GERMANY - Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer

GREECE - Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis

INDONESIA - President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono

IRAN - Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi

IRELAND - Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern

JORDAN - King Abdullah II

LEBANON - President General Emile Lahoud, Prime Minister Omar Karami, Foreign Minister Mahmoud Hammoud

LUXEMBOURG - Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Jean Asselborn

NETHERLANDS - Foreign Minister Bernard Bot

NORWAY - Foreign Minister Jan Petersen

PAKISTAN - Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz

PORTUGAL - Foreign Minister Antonio Monteiro

ROMANIA - Presidential adviser Simona Miculescu

RUSSIA - State Duma Chairman Boris Gryzlov, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Saltanov

SLOVAKIA - Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan

SLOVENIA - Foreign Minister Ivo Vajgl

SOUTH AFRICA - President Thabo Mbeki

SOUTH KOREA - Former Foreign Minister Yoon Young-Kwan

SPAIN - Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos

SWEDEN - Prime Minister Goran Persson

SWITZERLAND - Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey

TUNISIA - President Zine el-Abdine Ben Ali

TURKEY - Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Speaker of the Federal National Council Mohammed Saeed al Kindi, Minister of Supreme Council Affairs Sheikh Fahim bin Sultan al-Qassimi

UNITED KINGDOM - Foreign Secretary Jack Straw

UNITED STATES - Assistant Secretary of State Williams Burns

YEMEN - President Ali Abdullah Sale

Uri Avnery: Arafat wanted peace

A veteran Israeli peace campaigner and former MP paid tribute to Yasir Arafat, describing him as a man who wanted and could have delivered peace in the Middle East.

Uri Avnery was one of the few Israelis to attend Arafat's burial in Ram Allah on Friday.

"Contrary to the deionization of Yasir Arafat by the Israeli government, we believe that he was the man who wanted to make peace," Avnery, who is a senior member of the Israeli Gush Shalom peace movement, said.

"More importantly he was the man that was able to make peace and what is even more important, he was the man that was able to get his people to accept the peace. In this respect Arafat was unique, and I think we shall long for him."

Arafat was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 along with the late Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and then foreign minister Shimon Peres for agreeing to the Oslo peace accords.

However, current Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon Ariel Sharon viewed him differently and effectively confined the Palestinian leader to house arrest in his Muqata headquarters for the last three years of his life.

Frequently visited Arafat

Avnery, who was a regular visitor to the compound where Arafat was laid to rest, feared that the new generation of Palestinian leaders would lack the same clout needed to bring about permanent peace.

"I am worried about the future. There are good decent people who are trying to fill a huge vacuum but I am not sure they will be able to get Israel to accept what Arafat laid down."

Leadership of the key Palestinian institutions, which had all been headed by Arafat, have been split up among his most senior lieutenants.

Former prime minister Mahmud Abbas has become the effective supreme leader after being installed as Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) chairman.

While Arafat was shunned by Sharon and US President George Bush, Abbas was a guest of both men during his brief premiership last year.

Source: Aljazeera Net


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