News Release



Hijab is executive director of the Palestine Center in Washington. She said today: “Yasser Arafat has two main achievements. He forged a unified voice for the Palestinian people who suffered three different fates after Israel was created — exile and refugee camps, Israeli occupation, and Israeli rule. He also put the question of Palestine back on the map in 1968 — 20 years after the creation of Israel — and kept it there. But he was also the leader who signed over a dozen peace agreements with Israel but was powerless to achieve peace based on an end to the occupation and a state alongside Israel. By 2002, as Palestinian institutions and military were destroyed during the Israeli reoccupation of Palestinian towns in the West Bank and Gaza, he served as a convenient scapegoat for a peace process bankrupted by Israeli settlement-building policies and U.S. neglect.”
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Author of the book The Obstruction of Peace, Aruri is chancellor professor emeritus of political science at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. He said today: “In Arafat’s absence, we cannot underestimate Israel’s propensity to foment disorder and chaos in the occupied territories in order to support its spurious claims that Palestinians cannot govern themselves. In fact, the Palestinians in the occupied territories have already demonstrated a visible political maturity by pursuing decentralization since Arafat’s absence from the helm.”
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Grassroots advocacy coordinator for the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, Rubner said today: “President Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon both used President Arafat as an excuse to continue Israel’s military occupation of Palestinian lands. With that pretext removed, it’s time to hold President Bush to his purported commitment to supporting freedom and democracy in the Middle East. Palestinians have been denied self-determination for decades.”
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Currently in Qatar, Baroud is author of the recent article “Life Without Arafat.” He is editor-in-chief of and head of the research and studies department at English.
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167