(photo credit: )
The Palestinian Authority, which in recent years has been facing a severe financial crisis, has decided to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in build a large and magnificent mausoleum for former PA chairman Yasser Arafat.
The new stately structure will replace the current burial site, which is located in the Mukata "presidential" compound in Ramallah. The project is financed by the PA Ministry of Finance, which has refused to reveal the costs. However, sources here estimated the cost of the project at over one million dollars.
Entitled Mausoleum of Yasser Arafat, the project is being carried out by the Palestinian construction company Midmac and under the auspices of the PA's Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction [PECDAR].
PA Minister of Housing Mohammed Shtayyeh said a museum and a mosque will be attached to the mausoleum, adding that the new structure had been designed solely by Palestinian architects.
The museum will include Arafat's personal belongings, such as his keffiyeh and pistol, as well as other items he used during his work. As for the mosque, it will have enough space for 250 people and could also be used as a conference hall.
According to the plan, Arafat's tomb will be turned into a 12-meter-high chamber built with Jerusalem stones. A 19-meter-high monument, also decorated with Jerusalem stones, will be constructed next to the chamber, which will be surrounded by a garden stretching over a six-dunam plot.
To allow visitors free access to the site, the PA is planning to open a new gate in the southern part of the Mukata with a Jerusalem stone tiled path leading straight to the structure, which is due to be completed by May 2006.
In a related development, the entire Mukata compound is to be renovated under the terms of an agreement signed Tuesday between the PA and the United Nations Development Program [UNDP].
Japan will finance the project, estimated at more than $10 million.
Rafik Husseini, director of PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas's bureau, said the Palestinians were in need of new headquarters where they can meet world leaders "and deal with the world in a civilized and modern manner."
The plan, which is expected to be completed within 12 months, calls for the building several modern four-story buildings and a garden.