A Tribute to the Late Palestinian Leader Yasser Arafat

“I come bearing an olive branch in one hand, and the freedom fighter’s gun in the other. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand…” once said the late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, one of the rare Middle East leaders who set the milestone for peace; hoping that the longstanding Palestinian conflict would one day come to an end.

November 11 marked the third anniversary of the death of the Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Arafat, who died mysteriously in a hospital in Paris after a sudden deterioration in his health. Arafat, a sincere participant in the peace process, was once awarded the noble prize, along with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, precisely for their agreeing to sign the Oslo Accords, as it manifested their eagerness to bring peace to the conflict-torn region as envisioned by the Accords.

As the world awaits in great anticipation the so-called peace conference that will be hosted by the United States, the foremost “promoter of democracy”- in the words of its own leader- and which is supposed to be aimed at exploring ways to revive the deadlocked “peace process” by bringing back to the negotiations’ table the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships, it’s crucial to keep vivid in our minds the origin of the current turmoil and the true causes of this situation in the troubled Middle East region.

It’s equally important to recall who repeatedly extended the hand of peace and who has persistently rejected it- Who offered an olive branch and who butchered the hands holding it.

I recall the famous scene, back in 1993, where Arafat and Rabin shook hands at the White House, declaring a new phase of Arab-Israeli “peace”.

But Alas. Long years of persistent occupation of the Holy Lands, and the spilled blood of thousands of Palestinian fighters have made it crystal clear that Israel doesn’t have the least intention to engage in any peace plans, whether with Arafat or any other Palestinian leader, and the one paying the heavy cost is the suffering nation of Palestine- now caught up in another bloody conflict raging between its main political factions, Fatah and Hamas, a new battle front benefiting the country’s enemy, while adding to its woes.

Maha Youssuf


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