[QODLink]
Archive
Israeli activist: Arafat wanted peace

A veteran Israeli peace campaigner and former MP has paid tribute to Yasir Arafat, describing him as a man who wanted and could have delivered peace in the Middle East.

Last Modified: 12 Nov 2004 23:06 GMT
Avnery (R) says Israel missed opportunities to work with Arafat

A veteran Israeli peace campaigner and former MP has paid tribute to Yasir Arafat, describing him as a man who wanted and could have delivered peace in the Middle East.

Uri Avnery was one of the few Israelis to attend Arafat's burial in Ram Allah on Friday.

"Contrary to the demonisation of Yasir Arafat by the Israeli government, we believe that he was the man who wanted to make peace," Avnery, who is a senior member of the Israeli Gush Shalom peace movement, said.

"More importantly he was the man that was able to make peace and what is even more important, he was the man that was able to get his people to accept the peace. In this respect Arafat was unique, and I think we shall long for him," he added. 

Arafat was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 along with the late Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and then foreign minister Shimon Peres for agreeing to the Oslo peace accords.

However, current Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon viewed him differently and effectively confined the Palestinian leader to house arrest in his Muqata headquarters for the last three years of his life.

Frequently visited Arafat

Avnery, who was a regular visitor to the compound where Arafat was laid to rest, feared that the new generation of Palestinian leaders would lack the same clout needed to bring about permanent peace.

"I am worried about the future. There are good decent people who are trying to fill a huge vacuum but I am not sure they will be able to get Israel to accept what Arafat laid down."

Leadership responsibilities of key Palestinian institutions, which had all been headed by Arafat, have been divided among his most senior lieutenants.

Former prime minister Mahmud Abbas has become the effective supreme leader after being installed as Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) chairman.

While Arafat was shunned by Sharon and US President George Bush, Abbas was a guest of both men during his brief premiership last year.

Source:
AFP
Topics in this article
People
Featured on Al Jazeera
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Featured
Pro-Russia leaders' election in Ukraine's east shows bloody conflict is far from a peaceful resolution.
Critics challenge Canberra's move to refuse visas for West Africans in Ebola-besieged countries.
A key issue for Hispanics is the estimated 11.3 million immigrants in the US without papers who face deportation.
In 1970, only two mosques existed in the country, but now more than 200 offer sanctuary to Japan's Muslims.
Hundreds of the country's reporters eke out a living by finding news - then burying it for a price.