Palestinians on Sunday marked 14 years since the death of iconic leader Yasser Arafat, with current leader Mahmoud Abbas denouncing a US-Israel “conspiracy” to implement a nascent peace plan in the West Bank and Gaza.
Abbas, Arafat’s successor as Palestinian Authority president, laid a wreath at the tomb in Ramallah in the West Bank, flanked by senior PA officials.
After paying tribute to Arafat as “the leader of the nation and the leader of the martyrs,” Abbas went on to accuse Israel and the United States of seeking to sabotage Palestinian statehood through a peace plan that President Donald Trump calls “the ultimate deal.”
“There is an American conspiracy through the ultimate agreement and the Israelis are conspiring to implement it,” he said.
Abbas suspended diplomatic contact with Washington following Trump’s 2017 recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel.
Palestinians claim the eastern part of the city as the capital of their future state.
Abbas added that the Hamas terrorist group, his bitter rival which rules the Gaza Strip, was also hindering the cause.
“Another plot, by Hamas, aims to disrupt the establishment of an independent Palestinian state,” he said.
Hamas seized control of Gaza from Abbas’s Palestinian Authority in a 2007 near civil war.
Multiple reconciliation attempts aimed at restoring the PA to power in Gaza have failed.
In recent weeks, Abbas has been angered by indirect truce negotiations between Hamas and Israel, mediated by the United Nations and Egypt, that have bypassed the PA.
Arafat, who for decades embodied the violent struggle for independence, died at the age of 75 in a French hospital on November 11, 2004, with fellow Palestinians accusing Israel of having poisoned him.
The Israeli government firmly denies the allegation.
Arafat rose to become the leader of the Palestinian movement after the creation of Israel, leading an armed struggle against it in which thousands died.
Decades later, he ostensibly disavowed violence and famously shook hands with late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin on the White House lawn, although the peace the Oslo accords were supposed to bring never fully materialized. Israelis widely blame him for orchestrating the suicide-bombing onslaught of the Second Intifada in 2000-2003.
Arafat’s body was exhumed for tests in 2012, but a subsequent French investigation found no proof of poisoning.
Swiss experts, however, said they found high levels of radioactive polonium on his personal effects.