Arafat memorial rally 311 AP.
(photo credit: AP)
Abbas added that he wouldn’t recognize Israel as a
Jewish state, for fear that such a move would harm the status of Israel’s Arab
minority and deprive Palestinian refugees of the right to return to their former
Thousands of Palestinians from all over the West Bank attended the
major rally in Abbas’s presidential Mukata compound.
He said that since
1988 the Palestinians haven’t relinquished any of their main demands. He also
reached out to the Israeli people, declaring: “Making peace is more important
than everything else.”
In his speech, Abbas pledged to continue in
Arafat’s footsteps until the Palestinians achieve an independent Palestinian
state with Jerusalem as its capital, the refugees return to their homes and
lands and all prisoners are released from Israeli jail.
“There will be no
negotiations with settlements,” Abbas announced. “The Arab city of Jerusalem,
including the holy sites, is an integral part of the 1967 occupied
Everybody knows that Jerusalem was occupied in 1967 and that
any solution that does not include Jerusalem is not a solution.”
that the issue of the refugees must be solved on the basis of UN resolutions and
the Arab peace initiative of 2002.
Addressing Israel, Abbas said: “Making
peace is more important than settlements. Comprehensive and just peace is more
precious than everything else – more precious than the government coalition and
[Foreign Minister Avigdor] Lieberman and narrow interests. Our children and your
children must taste coexistence, stability, security and mutual respect before
it’s too late.”
Nasser al-Qidweh, a relative of Arafat, addressed the
crowd on behalf of the former PA leader’s family.
Qidweh called on
Palestinians to step up the struggle against settlements, which he termed a “big
crime” that destroys any chance of achieving a two-state solution.
blamed Israel once again for the death of Arafat and demanded an inquiry into
the case. He said that the PA was continuing to work toward obtaining clear-cut
evidence regarding Israel’s alleged involvement in the “assassination by poison
of martyr Arafat.”
Qidweh said that the Palestinians had been convinced
from the beginning that Israel was behind the “assassination” of Arafat. “But we
want clear evidence and we will get it,” he stressed.
In the Gaza Strip,
Hamas banned Fatah supporters from holding public rallies to commemorate
In Rafah, Hamas policemen raided the offices of Fatah legislator
Ashraf Jumaa and arrested scores of activists who had been invited to watch a
film about the late PLO chairman.
Eyewitnesses said Hamas detained a
number of journalists in Rafah during an “unlicensed” memorial event for
The Foreign Press Association issued a statement strongly
condemning Hamas for targeting journalists. It said that Hamas security
authorities detained television crews and ordered them to turn over news
“The total ban by the authorities on all stills photographers
wanting to cover the same event is unacceptable,” the association said. “This is
the latest in what seems to be a systematic campaign by Hamas to harass and
intimidate journalists. Our members are professional journalists working
for respected global news organizations.”