Abbas at Arafat memorial: We'll continue to follow shahids' path
Palestinian president tells thousands of supporters at memorial service for PLO leader that he won't agree to peace deal with Israel without massive prisoners' release. MK Tibi to rally: We miss Arafat's kaffiyeh - a symbol for all revolutionaries, freedom-seekers worldwide
"The Palestinian leadership will continue to follow Yasser Arafat's path until a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital is established," Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Tuesday during a memorial service marking the fourth anniversary of the iconic Palestinian leader's death.
During the memorial, held at Abbas' Mukataa compound in the West Bank city of Ramallah, the Palestinian president said, "The path of the shahids - Arafat, George Habash (founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) and (assassinated Hamas spiritual leader) Sheikh Ahmed Yassin - is the path that we cherish; it is aimed at upholding the Palestinians' nationalist and sovereign resolutions."
The memorial underscored the growing divisions between the West Bank and Gaza. The West Bank is ruled by Arafat's successor, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Gaza is run by the Islamic militant Hamas which seized the territory in 2007.
Speaking to thousands of supporters, Abbas said the Palestinians were determined to pursue the "peace of the brave that Arafat stood for." Alluding to Hamas, Abbas added that "the Palestinian nationalist resolution will not be dictated by external elements."
He continued to say that the Palestinian Authority would not agree to any peace agreement unless it included massive prisoner release by Israel, and challenged Hamas to "go to elections immediately; or, if you don’t want elections, let's hold a referendum."
Speaking before Abbas, Knesset Member Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al) called on Arafat to "rise from the grave and lead the Palestinians.
"While the US has elected a black leader, here racism and fascism continue to rear their ugly heads; even the olive trees could not evade their (Israeli's) racism and Apartheid," the MK said.
Tibi ended his speech by saying that the Palestinian struggle must conclude with the realization of Arafat's dream to establish a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
"We miss your kaffiyeh - a symbol to all the revolutionaries and freedom-seekers worldwide," the MK said.
Associated Press contributed to the report