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Last Updated: Friday, 11 November 2005, 15:50 GMT
Palestinians mark Arafat's death
Senior Palestinians pray by tomb of Yasser Arafat, where the foundation stone has been laid for a museum

Palestinians have been commemorating the first anniversary of the death of their late leader, Yasser Arafat.

The foundation stone of a new Arafat museum complex has been laid at his old base in the West Bank town of Ramallah, 12 months after he died at 75.

The ceremony, attended by top officials from Palestinian factions and a handful of foreign diplomats, was led by Mr Arafat's successor, Mahmoud Abbas.

He and other top Palestinians pledged to continue Mr Arafat's struggle.

"I renew my commitment to continuing the road he began and for which he made a lot of sacrifices, until the Palestinian flag flies from the walls, minarets and churches of Jerusalem," Mr Abbas said.


"We must continue the march together in keeping with the principles for which Abu Ammar [Arafat] became a martyr," he told thousands of Palestinians at a rally near the West Bank compound where Mr Arafat spent his final years.

Reflections from Jerusalem on Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's death one year ago

The subdued scenes were in marked contrast to the chaos that gripped Ramallah when Arafat's body was flown home last year from Paris, where he died in hospital.

The ruling Fatah party, founded by Mr Arafat in 1965, has organised another rally in Gaza City on Saturday.

Speculation over the cause of Mr Arafat's death continues among Palestinians.

A Palestinian ministerial inquiry proved inconclusive but said his death was not caused by germs, cancer, poisoning or Aids. His wife, Suha, refused to allow an autopsy.

The BBC's Alan Johnston in Jerusalem says that a year after Mr Arafat's death, arguments continue over his legacy.

There was a time when Israel used to argue that there was no such thing as a Palestinian people, he says. Nobody did more to dispel that notion than Yasser Arafat.

He put his people's cause at the centre of the world's attention, and Palestinians will always remember and respect him for that, our correspondent says.

Arafat was a man who brought Palestine to the international arena
Christy, Cochin, India

But many Palestinians are also very much aware of Mr Arafat's weaknesses, and his critics argue that he failed to lay proper foundations for any future Palestinian state.

Although Mr Abbas has tried to draw militant groups into a lasting ceasefire, he has never succeeded in really asserting himself, our correspondent says, and his party Fatah is in disarray and under challenge from the militant group Hamas.

There is a sense of drift and Palestinians worry about the deteriorating economy. At the same time, they feel no closer to establishing a viable state of their own, our correspondent concludes.

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