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Hundreds of Palestinians participated in a memorial ceremony in Ramallah Friday commemorating the one-year anniversary since the death of former Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat.
During the ceremony, current PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas
laid the cornerstone to a mausoleum honoring the late leader.
Israeli MK Ahmed Tibi
also participated in the ceremony.
Even as the Palestinians prepared for the ceremony
, the Palestinian Authority called for an international commission of inquiry to investigate the circumstances surrounding Arafat's passing. PA officials told The Jerusalem Post
that the commission of inquiry should have the same mandate as the one established by the UN to investigate the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri
Many Palestinians are still convinced that Arafat died as a result of poisoning. Two committees set up by the PA to investigate the case have failed to reach conclusive findings.
"There's an urgent need to deal seriously with the martyrdom of President Yasser Arafat," said Foreign Minister Nasser al-Kidwa, a nephew of the late PA chairman. "The conclusions of the [Palestinian] committees of inquiry remain shrouded in mystery."
According to Kidwa, serious questions are still being raised about the cause of Arafat's death. "This case should remain open until we reach the real reasons," he said.
Kidwa said that the PA was now considering appealing to the international community to form a special commission to try to establish what led to Arafat's death. "We have to make such a request," he added. "Under the current circumstances, it's going to be difficult, but this does not mean that we should not make a serious effort."
He also said that he did not rule out the possibility that the French authorities were hiding significant details about the case. Arafat died in a French military hospital.
"Perhaps they are withholding information from us out of fear that it could lead to an explosion in the region," he said.
"I'm confident that the future will reveal the truth," Kidwa added.
Echoing complaints by many Palestinians that the PA wasn't doing enough to commemorate Arafat, he explained that this was not a deliberate decision on the part of the PA. "It's only because of the pressure of the general situation and the busy schedule [of the PA leadership]," he said.
Another relative of Arafat, Abu Nasser al-Kidwa, an attorney from the Gaza Strip
, said it was a "disgrace" for the PA to allow Arafat's death to remain a mystery. "It's inconceivable that Arafat's blood should be spilled in vain and that the perpetrators remain anonymous," he said.
"This is a disgrace that our people can't accept. We want an international committee of inquiry similar to the one that was established after the assassination of Rafik Hariri. We want to know who killed Yasser Arafat."
The PA declared three days of mourning in its territories for the victims of Thursday night's suicide bombings in Jordan
. Many of those killed and wounded were Palestinians from the West Bank and Jerusalem. They include Gen. Bashir Nafi, commander of the Military Intelligence Force in the West Bank, and three senior PA officials.
On the eve of the first anniversary of Arafat's death, several Palestinian groups issued statements vowing to follow in his footsteps. "We will continue in the path of the late president until we fulfill all his dreams," said a statement issued by the ruling Fatah
party. "We will continue until our people hoist the Palestinian flag on the walls, minarets and churches of the Old City
The group also vowed to pursue the case of Arafat's death "until we establish the truth."
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