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Newspaper La Capital
Rosario – Friday, November 12, 2004

Middle East is in mourning. Akel has accused Sharon of destroying the peace process

Palestinian Ambassador has blamed Israel for the death (view)

The diplomat said that Arafat “did not receive his medicines” due to the Israeli blockade

In conversation with La Capital, the Palestinian Ambassador in Argentina, Suhail Hani Daher Akel, said yesterday that “ we are greatly disturbed and we feel a strong grief due to the death of the homeland father and liberator of our people”. Akel strongly criticized Israel and he directly blamed it for Arafat’s death. “It was a result of the blockade imposed on Arafat in Ramallah by Sharon and Israel. A blockade which did not really allow him to do anything or carry out his journeys. They did not even allow him to attend the funeral of his sister or Christmas Eve mass in Bethlehem. During his Christmas homily in 2003, the Pope himself expressed his dissatisfaction with the fact that Arafat had been denied to visit Bethlehem”.

The Ambassador of the Palestine National Authority in Argentina goes one step further and openly blames Israel for having precipitated Arafat’s death: “He was denied his humanitarian necessities because they denied entrance to foreigner doctors during the three-year blockade in Mukata and they denied him hospitalization in Ramallah. His medicines were kept by the Israeli army; therefore, he could not take his medicines in a correct way. Mr. Sharon and Israel are to blame for this”.

With regard to the political future, Akel said that “we are a democracy. Arafat won presidential elections with 80.1% of votes on January 20, 1996, and he called to elections in January 2002 and April 2003. Our institutions work well; the head of the Legislative Council (a substitute of the late President) took power of this body, as well as, Mahmoud Abbas started heading the executive committee of the PLO. Although we are living under the Israeli occupation, our democracy works quite well”. Akel emphasized that –due to the occupation- the future political process “is not going to depend on us, but on Israel. We have to carry out elections under the occupation; therefore, Israel is highly responsible for it. Israel is dividing Palestinian villages with its “Apartheid Wall”. From the day Arafat left Rammallah towards France to yesterday, Israel killed 34 Palestinians and wounded 138 Palestinians, 28 of them were children”.

Asking about the increasing involvement of Hamas, he stated that “we are going to respect the decision of the population. But is it possible to carry out democratic elections under the occupation"?

Although he expressed his criticism -and after thanking French President Chirac for extending a welcome to Arafat in Paris- Akel added: “We believe that the Israeli people are our main peace partner. It is necessary to carry out the Road Map and UN resolutions such as 242 and 338, which urge Israel to withdraw from the territories which were occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem”. Therefore, the unilateral withdrawal proposed by Sharon must be rejected: “While Israel tries to unilaterally withdraw from the occupied territories, Israel is going to deeper the differences. It must withdraw from the occupied territories by means of an agreement by mutual consent, just as the Road Map and our agreements establish”. Therefore, the obstacle to peace was not Arafat, “but Sharon”. The Israeli government constantly accused Arafat of being an obstacle to peace during all these years.

Besides, Akel reported the construction of the Israeli security wall or fence and he explained that the International Hague Court gave a majority verdict of “14 to 1”. It declared the construction “illegal” and the UN General Assembly ratified this decision. The fact that Israel ignored this decision “proves that Israel is not within the framework of the international legality and that it has a big appetite for Palestinian terrorism. If Israelis want to be besieged –this is not our intention-, they must do it in their territory; because the Wall gets into 30km in the Palestinian territory. It is going to keep 58% of our territory and 85% of our waters by 2005”.

Argentine government has offered its condolences

The Argentine government offered “its most sincere condolences” to the Palestinian people for Yasser Arafat’s death and it exhorted the countries involved in the Middle East conflict to “re-double their efforts” to achieve peace through “dialogue and negotiation”. The national administration offered its “profound condolences” for the death of the Palestine Authority’s President and it defined Arafat as “a leader who deserved the recognition of the international community for his efforts to achieve a fair and definitive solution to the conflict in Middle East”. “Argentina reiterates that the definite solution to the conflict only depends on dialogue and negotiation”, he stated.

Photo: A celebration in Jerusalem. A few religious extreme-right Jews celebrated the death of Yasser Arafat in Jerusalem yesterday. The great majority of the Israeli population, on the contrary, showed a careful silence and normally carried out its daily activities

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