'Only Arafat Could Have Brought Peace', Says Widow

10 years after former PA Chairman's death, his widow says that the "armed resistance" today will not work.

Elad Benari and Giullio Meotti,

Suha and Yasser Arafat
Suha and Yasser Arafat
Reuters

Former Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat’s widow, Suha Arafat, believes her late husband is the only who could have brought peace.

"Many say that my husband was an obstacle to peace. We saw, after his death, what happened to peace," she said on Wednesday, speaking to the Italian daily La Repubblica on the 10th anniversary of her husband’s death.

"History will tell whether Arafat was right to declare the Intifada,” Arafat, who lives in Malta with her daughter, told the newspaper upon being asked about the “armed resistance” advocated by her husband.

“But now we have millions of refugees. We must protect our children. It's easy to make war, difficult to stop it. The armed struggle today will not lead to anything more. We will only end up crushed. The forces are unequal. We have to continue negotiations, proving, if anything, that Israel does not want peace," she added.

In the interview, Arafat’s widow also referred to the tension between Hamas and Fatah, after Fatah cancelled ceremonies in Gaza marking the 10th anniversary of Arafat's death due to security concerns.

"My husband was the only one capable of unifying the various Palestinian factions," she said, adding, "Hamas did not have the right to ban the memorial for Arafat. It is unacceptable. And anyway, nothing can erase the memory of Arafat. It is in the heart of all Palestinians."

She said she was encouraged by Sweden’s recognition of the “state of Palestine” and added, "I hope that Italy will follow suit. [EU Foreign Minister] Federica Mogherini said the right things about the Palestinian cause. I remember a picture of her at the Muqata in a meeting with Arafat. Your Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, should express himself more clearly in favor of a Palestinian state. And of course none of us has to question the existence of the State of Israel. "

As for Hamas, said Suha Arafat, "Hamas has taken people hostage. When I see what is happening in Gaza ... It's genocide. A generation that is growing up in violence, with no education, with only the hope of emigrating. I hope that Hamas will finally understand and work towards peace negotiations."

"I cannot imagine going to Palestine, especially Gaza. And as long as I will not be accepted under suitable conditions, I will not go," she said, upon being asked whether she would contemplate returning to the region.

In the interview, Arafat’s widow also repeated previous claims that her husband was poisoned, though she would not say who she thought may have done it.

"Based on the samples that have taken from his body, the Swiss experts show an excessive dose of polonium that could have caused death. The French experts argue that traces of polonium contamination came from outside. The judiciary is still investigating . I am confident that the French courts will find the truth,” she said, adding, "There were many who wanted him gone. I cannot put the blame on anyone, neither Israel nor those in the circle of people close to him."




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