Tom Rollins: The Ghost of Yasser Arafat

Roundup: Talking About History

Tom Rollins is a freelance journalist.

Today the body of Yasser Arafat has been exhumed from his tomb, the concrete mausoleum in Ramallah’s muqata. It was never meant to be his final resting place. The inscription on his tomb promises Arafat will be laid to rest in Jerusalem – after a two-state solution, of course.
The muqata (or presidential compound) was where Arafat was besieged by Israeli guns, before being taken suddenly ill, during the Second Intifada. He died in a French military hospital not long after.
Many Palestinians still believe Arafat was murdered. And there is little doubt who was responsible. Like the new ragged spirit of Palestinian unity, the ghost of Arafat could come to haunt the Israelis once again.
Foul play
Yasser Arafat was always a divisive figure: freedom fighter and Nobel peace laureate, wealthy super-statesman and voice of a betrayed people, a charlatan and a hero. For many people, Arafat was – and still is – the imperfect symbol of the two-state solution. Israeli governments were always keen to undermine his popularity in the Middle East and the world. Ariel Sharon once called him the “greatest obstacle to peace and stability in the Middle East” – a “principal responsibility” sort of argument that has historically been launched at the occupied more than the occupier.
That could all change if it was discovered Arafat was victim of foul play...

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