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Burial row feared after arafat's death

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Burial row feared after Arafat's death

By Jennie Matthew in Jerusalem



YASSER Arafat's death is likely to create bitterness over his final resting place, with Israel ruling out Palestinian wishes to bury their veteran leader in Jerusalem.


With Mr Arafat apparently declared brain dead on Thursday (overnight AEDT), seven days after he was admitted to hospital in Paris, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has vowed to block his arch-foe from being buried in Jerusalem.

"As long as I am in power, and I have no intention of leaving, he (Mr Arafat) will not be buried in Jerusalem," public radio quoted Mr Sharon as telling a weekly cabinet meeting last Sunday.


A team headed by Mr Sharon's private secretary, Israel Maimon, has drawn up a report to explain the premier's refusal and why such a burial would be unacceptable to Israelis, public radio said.


Instead, Israel would only sanction his burial in the Gaza Strip and never on ground under its control, political officials were quoted as saying by Israel's private Channel 2 television.


Not only does the Arafat family have a cemetery plot in Gaza, from where his father originated, but Sharon intends to pull all Israeli settlers and troops out of the territory by the end of 2005.


An Arafat pilgrimage site would otherwise pose a security nightmare for Israel.


But Palestinians see Jerusalem as a fitting final resting place for a man who has dedicated 40 years of his life to the creation of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.


In the past, Mr Arafat has said he would like to be buried in the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in the Old City, considered the third holiest site for the world's Muslims, after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.


But the site is also home to the Temple Mount, the most holy place in Judaism.


Three years ago, Faisal Husseini, an executive member of Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organisation, was buried in the revered Al-Aqsa mosque. But he was a Jerusalem resident.


Hundreds of thousands would be expected to march on Jerusalem for an Arafat funeral and stage mass demonstrations against Israeli occupation, with the risk of "total anarchy", a leaked foreign ministry document has warned.


Other alternatives have been bandied about for Mr Arafat, who vowed throughout his career to pray at Al-Aqsa alongside his people one day.


One would be Abu Dis, a suburb of the holy city outside Jerusalem's jurisdiction. Another is Ramallah, where Arafat survived a three-year Israeli blockade before being medivaced out on October 29.


But complicating matters is the fact that Mr Arafat failed to make a will specifying how he wanted to be buried, a high-ranking Muslim religious official said.


"We never discussed this issue with the President and he never mentioned it to us," the Palestinian official said on condition of anonymity. "None of us dared to ask about it because it might bring bad luck."


"I don't think that Israel will ever allow him to be buried in Palestine," the source said, adding that Jordan and Egypt would likely both offer to have him buried on their territory with Israel ruling out the Jerusalem option.

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Having made a personal appearance twice with the Hajis, 91,and 03, I will honestly say "most" of the populace have a different value system than we do.  Kindness is regarded as a weakeness that "must" be exploited and bullying war factions is a way of life and has been for generations.  


One reason we've been taking so many casualties is because we are fighting a guerilla was the western way and not the Haji way.    Our leathernecks are about to let loose a little payback.  Keeping the red out of the blue.  Josh

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