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Abu Mazen Recommits PLO to Peace, Arafat’s Legacy

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One day ahead of a meeting with visiting British Prime Minister Tony Blair, PLO Chairman Mahmud Abbas (Abu Mazen) on Tuesday recommitted the new Palestinian Leadership to peace as the strategic option and to late Palestinian leader Yaser Arafat’s legacy as the “Palestinian guide” for the next stage of national struggle.




December 23, 2004

Abbas Insists on Demilitarization, Rejects Civil War

Blair, who arrived in Israel from Iraq late Tuesday, was scheduled to meet with Mahmud Abbas and other top officials of the Palestinian Leadership in the West Bank city of Ramallah Wednesday.

At the end of an official 40-day mourning period, Abbas has reconfirmed loyalty to Yaser Arafat’s legacy and described the late founder of Palestinian nationalism as the “founder, the mentor and symbol of our Palestinian people.”

“No words of homage are sufficient to commemorate his memory,” Abbas said.

“Arafat led our people to the doorstep of liberty and independence. Abu Ammar (Arafat) remains eternal in the minds and collective memory of our people and the Arab and Islamic people,” he added.

Palestinians on Tuesday paid tribute to the founder of Palestinian nationalism Arafat, at the end of the mourning period, with a major event in the late leader’s headquarters (the Muqataa) in Ramallah.

About 250 people, including dignitaries from Jordan and Egypt, the latter represented by Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Sulaiman, local Christian and Muslim leaders, and diplomats attended the memorial service in a hall inside the compound. Crowds of people paid their respects outside.

A large picture of Arafat was displayed in the hall, with a picture of Jerusalem's Dome of the Rock mosque in the background under the slogan: “Following in your footsteps, we will realize the Palestinian dream.” A poster of Abbas with Arafat in the background had the same slogan.

Following the ceremony, a longtime Arafat bodyguard raised the Palestinian flag over the compound, where it had flown at half-mast for the last 40 days.

Loyal to Arafat’s Dream until It Comes True

Addressing the gathering at the compound where Arafat was besieged by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) for nearly three years before his death in Paris on November 11, Abbas said: “We will continue the struggle to make your dream and our dream come true and to have a Palestinian child raise the Palestinian flag on the walls of Jerusalem, the capital of our independent Palestinian state,” he said.

“We speak near your temporary grave until the soil of liberated Jerusalem embraces you,” he said.

Israel refused to bury Arafat in occupied Jerusalem and Palestinians insist that sooner or later his body will be transferred to Jerusalem.

Arafat’s Last Speech a ‘Will’

Abbas announced commitment to the implementation of Arafat’s last speech to the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) as “the guide” for the next stage of Palestinian national struggle.

In that speech, Arafat acknowledged he had made mistakes in running the Palestine National Authority (PNA) and promised government reform.

Arafat gave the PLC four months not only a speech, Abbas announced, adding, “it was the last will of President Arafat to his people before he passed away.”

“We promise you Abu Ammar that your speech is the will and the document that we will follow from now on.”

Abbas said Arafat's speech “accurately evaluated the last 10 years of the peace process and all the political issues and the issues of the struggle.”

Pledging that “nobody will be above the law,” Abbas said the Palestinians are moving toward democracy.

Abbas is the front-runner in January 9 presidential elections to replace Arafat as the president of the PNA.

On Thursday the first stage of local elections kicks off in more than 35 Palestinian municipalities. Legislative polls are scheduled to be held by mid-2005.

Abbas also reiterated Palestinian commitment “to the just and strategic peace option” in accordance with the United Nations resolutions.

“We are standing here today to reiterate to the world that we are committed to the option of just and strategic peace, to achieve the rights of our people,” Abbas said.

He described the Problem of Refugees as “the core and essence of the Question of Palestine” that should be solved on the basis of UN Resolution 194.

Abbas Insists on Demilitarization, Rejects Civil War

A day earlier in the Jordanian capital Amman, Abbas insisted at the end of a GCC tour there would be no civil war among Palestinians resulting from implementation of his vision for the demilitarization of the Intifadah (uprising) against the 37-year old Israeli occupation.

However he warned that “appeasement is inevitable” for resuming peace negotiations with Israel — but Israel must also make parallel moves.

“We reject a Palestinian civil war taking place, and rule out any Palestinian inter-fighting,” Abbas said at a joint press conference with Jordanian Foreign Minister Hani Mulqi.

“The dialogue which we are conducting with Palestinian factions aims at putting the Palestinian house in order and working out a single path for the Palestinian people without any contradictions,” he added.

Abbas insisted on a reciprocal approach to ceasefire.

“We see that appeasement is inevitable for enabling our people to live in peace and for paving the ground for the resumption of negotiations, but such a step should be coupled with a parallel move on the part of Israel,” he said.

Abbas on Monday said the Palestinians were ready to assume their responsibilities after any Israeli pullout from the Gaza Strip but stressed final status talks must be part of the “roadmap” peace plan, which the UN Security Council endorsed in Resolution 1515 in November 2003.

“We will assume responsibility for every parcel of land the Israelis will evacuate ... but the withdrawal must be part of the roadmap,” Abbas said.

Israel ‘Discouraged’

Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said he was "discouraged" by new PLO chief Mahmud Abbas, accusing him of being reluctant to confront armed groups and wanting to preserve Yaser Arafat's legacy.

“Abu Mazen's first declaration was divided into two parts. The first part was that he will preserve Arafat's legacy. For us that legacy is terrorism. We can't live with that, but we can understand (such comments) during this period of elections,” Shalom said.

“The second part was that they would never give up on the right of return. That is unacceptable. These types of pronouncements are not encouraging, because they create illusions,” Shalom told the Jerusalem Post.

Abbas did not appear to be prepared for a confrontation with armed groups such as Hamas, he added.

“We want them to have their elections. But the day after, on January 10, we would like to see them take the strategic decision to fight terrorism. But unfortunately Abu Mazen made a statement a few days ago that he will not do it by force, that 'We will have to talk to our people and our brothers,' and convince them not to carry out their attacks,” Shalom quoted Abbas as saying.

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Created by keza
Last modified 2005-01-04 06:47 AM

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