Friday, November 05, 2004

AS YASSER ARAFAT LIES IN A COMA, seemingly close to death and perhaps already on life support, the Palestinian leadership is so far declining to make funeral arrangments. This AP article summarizes the state of play regarding where he might be buried and how the Temple Mount fits into the picture.
Arafat Could Be Buried in Gaza or Ramallah


Associated Press Writer

November 5, 2004, 2:45 AM EST

JERUSALEM -- Though Yasser Arafat lies gravely ill in a Paris hospital, Palestinians have refused to begin planning for his funeral or coordinate with Israel on the movement of attending foreign dignitaries, officials say.

Arafat's burial place also is uncertain, after Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ruled out Jerusalem. Arafat had expressed a wish to be buried there at a hotly disputed holy site in the Old City.

Muslims call the hilltop Haram as-Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary, Islam's third-holiest shrine, where the Al Aqsa Mosque compound is built over the ruins of the biblical Jewish temples.

Jews call the site the Temple Mount, Judaism's holiest site. Disputes over control and sovereignty there have scuttled several rounds of peace talks.

Arafat could be buried in the Gaza Strip, where his family has a plot. An alternative would be the West Bank city of Ramallah, where Arafat made his headquarters and which became his prison after Israel besieged his compound more than two years ago.

Palestinians refuse to discuss arrangements as long as Arafat is alive.


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