Arafat remembered

A mausoleum has been built in Ramallah on the site of the destroyed bunker where a group of us from Birmingham had met Yasser Arafat in January, 2004, only months before his death. He was and is deeply revered by Palestinians from both Fateh and Hamas.
It is now 3 years since Arafat’s passing and his achievements in holding Palestinians together are underlined by developments since with the West Bank and Gaza split, the latter in a state of perpetual siege. In 2001 he was in London meeting with Tony Blair who was as ever resolving to get the peace process going.

Later after Arafat’s death Tony Blair went to Ramallah and had stood briefly before the coffin and hurriedly left. No wreath. Uri Avnery, an Israeli commentator, remarked at the time. The incident left a bitter taste for Palestinians. Rather than a mark of respect he had sullied the memory of their leader.

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