One year after his death, the Palestinian president, Yasser Arafat (Abu Ammar), remained that symbol of the Palestinian struggle for liberation and independence, in spite of the Israeli efforts to erase the memory of the man it hunted for 40 years.
Ramallah, the headquarters of the Palestinian National Authority (P.A), and the place where Arafat was confined in his headquarters, surrounded by Israeli tanks and soldiers until his sickness, and death (at the Persi Military Hospital in Paris).
The P.A conducted massive preparations over the last several days in order to commemorate the first anniversary of the death of Yasser Arafat. The ceremonies will be carried out at the Moqata’a (Palestinian Headquarters in Ramallah) near Arafat’s grave.
The grave area became a symbol for the Palestinian struggle and years of resistance against the occupation…and years to come until liberation. There you can see a huge picture of Arafat, carrying his familiar smile and victory sign.
Nabil Abu Rodeina, presidential spokesperson at the P.A, the man who was considered Arafat’s closest aide since 1994 until his death, said that Abu Ammar will remain alive in the hearts and minds of the Palestinians, and will remain the symbol of the Palestinian struggle.
“He represented the Palestinian struggle”, Abu Rodeina said, “He represented the refugees, and the Palestinian cause locally and internationally”.
Palestinian Prime Minister, Ahmad Qurei, said that Arafat was a true partner for peace, “but what he needed was a true peace partner on the Israeli side”.
“We will remain loyal to his memory; we will remain loyal to his vision to construct a Palestinian independent state in the West bank, the Gaza strip and the east of Jerusalem.
Arab member of Knesset Dr. Azmi Bishara, from the National Democratic Assembly, said that Israel always claimed that Arafat was an obstacle for peace, but his “physiological absence” proved that he was only an obstacle to Sharon’s “version of peace”, a peace of annexation, expansion and further occupation.
Latest polls revealed that 94.8% of the Palestinians believe that Arafat is considered a symbol of the Palestinian struggle, 74% said that they miss him.
Yet, Israel chose to wipe out this man from its memory, the main which it hunted for 40 years.
Dr. Nabil Kokaly, head of the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion, in Beit Sahour, said that a poll conducted by the center one the first anniversary of Arafat’s death revealed that 94.8% of the residents still observe Arafat as leader and a symbol.
Itamar Markus, head of the Palestine Media Watch organization, and an expert in the Arab and Palestinian Media affairs, said that Arafat is part of a history Israel wants to forget, and that the Middle East “is not the same region which Arafat used to move in”.
“Abbas is now in the new dimension”, he said.
74% of the surveyed residents said that they support Abbas, 24% apposed him.
60% of the Palestinians support renewing the “calm period” with Israel which expires by the end of this year, and 32% apposed renewing it. These results show 15% decline of the support to renewing the truce; this decline is directly affected by the continuous Israeli operations, assassinations, arrest and military procedures Israel imposes on the residents.
75% of the Palestinian in the Gaza Strip, and 51% in the West Bank support renewing the truce.
70% of the residents believe that the suicide bombing Hadera suicide bombing, in Israel, does not serve the Palestinian interests and cause. The bombing, which was carried out October 26, 2005, left six Israelis killed, several injuries were reported.
48% of the surveyed Palestinians said that peace is possible with Israel in the near future, 47% did not believe so. 60% of the residents trust the role of the European Union as fair observers on the Rafah Border Crossing between Gaza and Egypt, and that the E..U observers will not act against the Palestinian interests.
* 825 West Bank residents were surveyed last month, in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and the East of Jerusalem.