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Abbas: Arafat’s remains to be moved to Jerusalem

Ahead of 10th anniversary of Fatah leader’s death, PA president says predecessor ought to ‘remain immortal in the hearts of our people’

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addresses a rally commemorating the fifth anniversary of Yasser Arafat's death in the West Bank city of Ramallah, 2009. (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash 90, file)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addresses a rally commemorating the fifth anniversary of Yasser Arafat's death in the West Bank city of Ramallah, 2009. (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash 90, file)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Monday that former PLO leader Yasser Arafat’s remains would soon be transferred from Ramallah to Jerusalem, the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency reported.

The PA leader did not specify the exact location of Arafat’s reburial, or when it would take place.

The announcement, which came a day before the tenth anniversary of the death of the late head of the Palestine Liberation Organization, was made in honor of the inauguration of the Arafat museum in Ramallah. The ex-Fatah leader is presently buried in the Muqata’a, the PA headquarters in Ramallah.

In his address Monday, Abbas said Arafat ought to “remain immortal in the hearts of our people,” according to the report.

Last week, in an interview for Palestinian TV ahead of the anniversary, the PA president recalled Arafat as “peace-loving” and “a source of optimism.”

“I remember a time after 1967, what was considered the collapse of the entire Arab nation, I went to Syria and found him [Arafat] in a car dressed in military garb and when I said to him, Abu Ammar [Arafat’s nom de guerre] the war is over and we lost, he said: ‘No, they were defeated, not us,’ then he made up his mind to come to Palestine and he did,” Abbas said.

A large commemoration ceremony for Arafat in the Gaza Strip was canceled by Hamas Sunday after some 10 Fatah leaders’ houses were bombed in the coastal enclave early Friday. There were no casualties in the attacks. In an announcement, the Gazan Interior Ministry, which is still dominated by Hamas, said it had informed Fatah it could not provide security for the rally.

The rally would have been the first time Fatah has marked the anniversary in the Gaza Strip since 2007 — the year that Hamas seized control of the area. At that previous rally, just months after the Hamas takeover of the Strip, 10 people were killed in clashes that erupted.

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