'If someone harms a hair on our head, the PA is responsible'

Suha Arafat says she’s being attacked by PA for defending UAE on its Israel deal

Arafat’s widow tells Israeli TV says she’s been branded a traitor for warm remarks to Abu Dhabi, indicates she has dirt on top officials which she won’t hesitate to expose

File: Suha Arafat at her home in Sliema, Malta, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012 (AP Photo/Lino Azzopardi)
File: Suha Arafat at her home in Sliema, Malta, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012 (AP Photo/Lino Azzopardi)

The widow of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat told an Israeli TV station that she is under attack by Palestinian Authority leaders for friendly comments she made to the United Arab Emirates, after it announced its normalization of ties with Israel, and has warned she could “open the gates of hell” on PA chiefs if those attacks do not stop, indicating she has dirt on top officials.

Suha Arafat, currently living in Malta, wrote an Instagram post on August 21, after the decision to normalize ties between Jerusalem and Abu Dhabi was announced. In it, she said she wished to apologize “in the name of the Palestinian people” for Palestinians’ burning of UAE flags and other insults made against the Emirates in the wake of the deal.

“This is not of our morals, nor our customs, nor our traditions,” she wrote. She urged Palestinians to “study history well to learn how the UAE, past and present, supported the Palestinian people and the cause.”

She said the people of the Emirates were a “generous and kind people who have always welcomed us with every bit of graciousness.”

Since writing that post, Arafat says she has been threatened and widely attacked on social media, a fact she blames squarely on the Palestinian leadership she believes is fanning the flames.

In an interview with Israel’s Kan TV news Thursday, Arafat decried the “thought police” she said were hounding her since she wrote the post. “All of this just because I said not to burn flags?”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah on May 7, 2020. (Nasser Nasser/Pool/AFP)

“There are instructions to turn me into a traitor and these instructions come from the head of the president’s office,” Arafat said, referring to PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s private secretary Intisar Abu Amara, who she claimed was “feeding the president false information” and “is the one controlling Palestine through the president.”

She also criticized the PA’s official response to the UAE’s move, which Ramallah deemed a “despicable decision” and a betrayal. For its part, the UAE says it compelled Israel to call off planned partial West Bank annexation plans as part of the normalization deal, and that this gives Israel and the Palestinians a new opportunity to negotiate.

The PA called for the UAE to “immediately retract” its agreement with Israel, a call Abu Dhabi so far appears to have ignored. It also recalled its ambassador to the UAE in protest over the agreement.

Arafat said instead of hurling accusations, the PA should have appealed to the UAE’s crown prince and de facto leader Mohammed bin Zayed for understanding.

“If Yasser Arafat were alive he’d go to Mohammed bin Zayed and say ‘Come Mohammed Ben Zayed, help me with [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu, I can’t deal with them.’ But to go and say an Arab country is a betrayer? Enough with the slogans. We collaborate with Israel, with the Shin Bet and Mossad. Who are you kidding?”

Suha Arafat and late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat attend a conference in the Gaza Strip on April 5, 1995. (photo credit: Nabil Judah/AP)
Suha Arafat, right, and late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat attend a conference in the Gaza Strip in April 1995 (photo credit: AP/Nabil Judah)

She was apparently referring to the PA’s regular security coordination with Israel, which was halted in recent months over Israel’s annexation plans.

Arafat said her brother Jibran al-Tawil was being harassed as well. Al-Tawil is currently the PA’s ambassador to Cyprus, but according to Kan he was summoned in recent days for questioning in Ramallah after refusing to organize action against the UAE at the embassy.

“They think they’re a superpower. I demand of Abu Mazen protection,” she told Kan, using Abbas’s nom de guerre. “Protection from those who surround him. What do they want to do to my brother? Put him in jail?”

She also appeared concerned by potential attempts to remove the monthly stipends she receives from the PA as Abbas’s widow, which she said stood at a sum of €10,000 ($12,000).

“If [someone] harms a hair upon our head, I will hold the PA fully responsible,” she said.

Arafat stressed she did not believe Abbas was responsible but rather a cadre of politicians and advisers surrounding him.

“He has nothing to do with this, but they’re leading him on. I love Abu Mazen but those around him want to destroy the Arafat family,” she said.

Arafat ended the interview with a threat.

“We are strong. The Arafat family is strong,” she said. “If they want to open the gates of hell on me, I’ll open the gates of hell on them too. And I have Yasser’s personal diary. He wrote about every one of them. If I publish a tiny piece of paper of what Yasser wrote about them, it will expose them to their people.”

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