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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 November, 2004, 17:32 GMT
Arafat memorial in Welsh church
Yasser Arafat
The Archbishop said Arafat gave his life to the Palestinian cause
A memorial service for Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat who died early on Thursday has been held at a small mid Wales church.

Rev Geraint ap Iorwerth draped the Palestinian flag over the altar at his church in Pennal, near Machynlleth.

He was joined by a few parishioners who wanted to pay their respects.

Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Wales the Most Rev Dr Barry Morgan has paid tribute to President Arafat, who died in a hospital near Paris.

The archbishop also called on Israel to avoid inflaming an already "tense situation."

I feel the church in the UK should engage in open debate about the Palestinian issue
Rev ap Iorwerth

Rev ap Iorwerth, 54, has campaigned for 30 years for the Palestinian state and he visited the Middle East in the 1980s and 90s.

His father also went on several pilgrimages too during the 1960s and 70s.

Rev ap Iorwerth explained why he held the memorial service at St Peter ad Vincula Church.

"Following the death I decided to hold a vigil in memory of Yasser Arafat," said Rev ap Iorwerth.

"I think there will be an increased threat from extremists now Mr Arafat has died.

"He managed to control them while he was alive, but there seems to be no one left with sufficient authority to negotiate a peace settlement.

'Open debate

"Some say Mr Arafat didn't grasp peace and it's true he did turn to terror, but many say he had no choice.

"I feel the church in the UK should engage in open debate about the Palestinian issue and I've pressed for this for some time."

The Archbishop of Wales said Mr Arafat had given his life to the cause of the Palestinian people.

He would be remembered for his "perseverance and resolve" in the face of so many challenges and set-backs, he added.

"When I heard the news of his death this morning, my initial reaction was to pray that in death Yasser Arafat will find that peace which only God can give and which was denied him in life," said Archbishop Morgan.

"I pray also that his death will not lead to bloodshed and conflict within the Palestinian community, or confrontation with the forces of the Israeli state.

Rev ap Iorwerth has also written a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of York David Hope and Archbishop of Wales about the Palestinian issue.

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