The death of Arafat: a blow to the Palestinian cause

Editorial, Radio Havana Cuba

11 November 2004

The death of the President of the Palestine Authority, Yasser Arafat, has caused international consternation because it means the disappearance of one of the fundamental players in the search for peace in the Middle East. A man who dedicated his entire life to his people's cause, he became a symbol of Palestinian identity and its struggle for an independent and sovereign State; a home for all Palestinians including those condemned to exile after the cruel partition of its territories. Facing an adversary who refuses to recognize judicial, legal or moral boundaries in obtaining its objectives, the young Yasser Arafat didn't hesitate to exercise his legitimate right to rebellion to defend the lives and interests of his people. His courage, intelligence and determination won him the leadership of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. It was in that post that he brought international recognition to the Palestinian cause. Arafat's most memorable action of the time was his historic speech in the United Nations General Assembly, when he warned the world not to let a peaceful solution to the conflict slip away. Later designated as president of the National Palestine Authority, Arafat continued the struggle on the military front, forced to navigate around traps, misunderstandings, difficult times and the complicated relations of the Middle East region.

Aware that only through peace can there be security, President Arafat assumed political and diplomatic negotiations under totally unequal conditions, because he was facing a armed camp in which his adversaries always had the advantage.

The close alliance between Tel Aviv and Washington in which the United States managed to paralyze the European countries, the fickleness of some Arab nations, whose governments sometimes seemed more interested in maintaining their business relations than in assuming their obligations in the Palestinian struggle and the internal contradictions of a people submitted to decades of death and suffering, made the challenge appear to be insurmountable at times. Nevertheless, Arafat, became an indispensable factor for dialogue and peace and when it came time to design the future of the region no one can deny that the existence of a Palestinian State is indispensable for peace and stability in the region. It is also undeniable that the greatest achievement of Yasser Arafat's life was to focus world attention on the cause of his people and that will be the task of whoever eventually succeeds him at a time when no one can dare to deny the validity of his claims for his people.

An indefatigable fighter for the rights of the dispossessed, the oppressed and the excluded, Yasser Arafat is not gone. He will live on in the struggles of his people.

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