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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 November, 2004, 17:33 GMT
Palestinians view future after Arafat
Hamas member Khalid Meshaal
Khalid Meshaal blames Israel

Leading Palestinian officials from across the political spectrum have been commenting on the death of Yasser Arafat and its ramifications for the Palestinian cause and future relations with Israel.

The statements range from the defiant and uncompromising from radical movements like Hamas and Islamic Jihad, to the conciliatory from more moderate sectors.

The following are a selection:

Khalid Meshaal, head of the political bureau of Islamic militant movement Hamas:

This morning, we are filled with pain and sadness for the death of... Abu Ammar [Yasser Arafat]. There are several indications now that Israel killed Yasser Arafat. By killing Yasser Arafat, Israel has killed the political settlement process. It killed the person with whom it made this political process. This should be a message to the Palestinians and Arabs. This is the fate of those who reject the Israeli political settlement and the Israeli surrender conditions. I do not hesitate to accuse Israel of killing Yasser Arafat. I urge my brothers in Fatah and in the Palestinian Authority not to ignore this. Yasser Arafat's blood is Palestinian, Arab and Muslim blood, and we are responsible for protecting it. Yasser Arafat does not belong to Fatah only. He is Palestinian.

Raid al-Aidi, senior member of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a militant group affiliated to the Fatah movement:

We hold Israel fully responsible for the assassination of our mentor and father, Abu Ammar. That was caused by the siege imposed on him. Hence, we call on all the heroes of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades across the homeland to confront and strike at the occupiers everywhere. There are no red lines after the assassination of our father, leader and mentor, Yasser Arafat. We call on the Palestinian leadership to act responsibly and follow the footsteps of our mentor and father, and maintain the Palestinian principles, for these principles are the only guarantee for continuing the Palestinian resistance. We in the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades will direct painful blows upon this artificial entity.

Ramadan Abdullah al-Shallah, secretary general of militant movement Islamic Jihad:

These are hard times facing the Palestinian cause and people, the Arab nation and Muslim people. There is no doubt that this is a major ordeal. We are therefore required to show more patience, calm and unity in order to pass this test, God willing. We will not be shaken by all the winds of the Earth after your death, even if the winds in this world are steered by Bush, who hated and antagonised you. We will stand by you with our hearts, minds and all our capacity. [Arafat was] steadfast when it came to the big and crucial issues in Camp David and said no not only to Israel, but also to the strongest country in the world, the United States.

Mohammed Dahlan, former Palestinian National Authority internal security minister:

It is the saddest day in the history of the Palestinian people, and the Arab and Islamic nations. Despite the difficult circumstances and the immense pressure that we are under, we are proceeding in two directions: The first is to treat the wound that has been created by this profound grief which has overwhelmed the Palestinian people and the Arab and Islamic nations; and the second to strengthen the Palestinian institutions so they will take their legitimate form in accordance with the law and the constitution. The Palestinian leadership and people have a high sense of responsibility, that they are overcoming their pain and ordeals, and that they are carrying on with their duties in a democratic and smooth manner despite the grave news that was announced today.

Some voices are heard here and there from those who are so disappointed that there is no civil war in Palestine so far: I allude to some, or even many, Israelis and some foreign observers. We say that we will not resort to anything except to law and order and only to elections and democracy. President Arafat affirmed this policy by his 35 years of perseverance.

Rawhi Fattuh, parliament speaker and acting Palestinian president:

Arafat was a man of peace, who took the risk to reach a fair political settlement, and a courageous negotiator, who adhered to national constants and made no concessions over the national rights or any inch of Jerusalem's soil. We stress to the international community our commitment to a peace process that will lead to a just, durable and comprehensive peace. We look forward to seeing the international community play a greater role in support of the national, inalienable, just Palestinian rights, as endorsed by legitimate international resolutions.

Ahmad Sadat, secretary general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine [speaking from prison in Jericho]:

It is painful for our people, our nation and free people throughout the world to lose leader Abu Ammar, who was distinguished for his sacrifice in the service of our national cause. It is also painful to see official Arab failure to extend a helping hand to brother Abu Ammar, to lift the siege that lasted for some three years, or to stand by our people, who are facing the Sharon racist government's aggression against their very existence and their national entity and rights.

We disagreed with Abu Ammar on many other issues, including his political tactics and his mode of action, but agreed with him on many, many other issues. We agreed with the brothers in the Fatah movement and the rest of the national and Islamic factions on numerous issues. In any revolution or any national movement, there are many agreements and many disagreements.

Jibril Rajoub, former Palestinian national security adviser:

I don't think that the coming era will be the same as it was when Arafat was alive, with his giant stature, his greatness and his ability to face up to the challenges and demands of the era. Yasser Arafat is the only one who was able to comprehend the importance of national unity. I don't think there will be another such leader in the history of the Palestinian people who is ready to say No to the Americans and the Israelis.

Marwan Barghouti, jailed West Bank Fatah leader:

Words cannot express the deep sorrow that we feel at the passing of our leader, the leader of the nation, President Arafat. It's important to hold on to the national principles and values that were laid down by the martyred leader, who has spent all his life implementing them. We must retain our national unity, our commitment to the intifada and our commitment to real democracy and the establishment of law and order.

Nabil Shaath, Palestinian foreign minister:

The man always sought consensus, and definitely was never bloodthirsty. He never really dealt with his critics with assassinations, never. Compared to many leaders in the area, he really ruled with a much wiser and much more compassionate way of dealing with his critics.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.


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