The Palestinian Authority (PA) commemorated on Thursday the 12th anniversary of President Yasser Arafat’s death, as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called for 2017 to mark the end of the Israeli occupation.
While at a ceremony in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah where thousands of Palestinians were in attendance, Abbas hailed the late Palestinian leader, saying that “Yasser Arafat is still alive in us and we are inspired with more persistence and determination because of him.”
In addition to calling for an end to the 50-year Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, Abbas argued that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was the only legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.
“We are the only ones to speak for Palestinians, and I dare anyone to say that we have given up any of our rights.”
Abbas’ statement came as the president and the Fatah-led PA has become increasingly unpopular in past years, with Palestinians criticizing Fatah infighting, the government’s security coordination with Israel, and its perceived inability to push for a solution to the Israeli occupation.
Meanwhile, at least one Palestinian youth was injured during clashes with Israeli forces at a demonstration for Arafat outside of Ramallah.
Last year, at least 70 Palestinians were injured by Israeli forces while commemorating the 11th anniversary of Arafat’s death.
Arafat died in France on Nov. 11, 2004, at the age of 75, but doctors were unable to specify the cause of death. No autopsy was carried out at the time, in line with his widow’s request.
His remains were exhumed in November 2012 and samples were taken, partly to investigate whether he had been poisoned — a suspicion that grew after the assassination of Russian ex-spy and Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko in 2006.
French judges investigating claims that Arafat was murdered closed the case in September without bringing any charges, saying that evidence did not demonstrate the leader had been poisoned.