Palestinians ought to be met halfway, Ofir Pines-Paz, Secretary General of Ha'avoda, Labor Party, remarked yesterday. He thinks Arafat may be buried in East Jerusalem if Palestinian extremists reciprocate by stopping terror.
The Likud, party in office, came out in indignation. "Pines' call shows how badly Ha'avoda has degraded as Zionist movement. Revealing its bankruptcy is its readiness to make any concessions to Palestinians wherever the Palestine-Israeli conflict is concerned," says Gideon Saar, Likud parliamentary group leader, as quoted by the Cursor news agency.
It was Arafat's dream to find his last abode on Mount Zion, near the Al Aksa mosque, third principal Muslim shrine. At any rate, he said so to Akram Sabri, Mufti of Jerusalem, as they met four months ago, the Mufti says now.
Mount Zion, however, is no less sacred to Jews than Muslims. It was site of the Temple, built by King Solomon. "Jerusalem is a city where Jewish kings not Arab terrorists are interred," pointed out Joseph Lapid, Justice Minister-words the Israeli press is amply quoting.
If Arafat is buried in Jerusalem, his grave will substantiate Palestinian claims for Jerusalem or, at least, its east part to become capital of an independent Palestinian state, many Israelis say apprehensively.
The Arafat family possesses a cemetery site big enough to hold 25 or even thirty graves in the Gaza strip, as rumor has it. That is, most probably, where the Palestinian leader will eventually be buried. Israel proceeds from that option as it alerts law enforcement bodies for Arafat's burial, which is likely to trigger off another storm of violence in Palestine, as Shaul Mofaz, Defense Minister, warned the Cabinet at its session today.
If Israel proves too obstinate in this delicate matter, it will badly dampen its political dialogue with Palestine, Palestinian activists are warning, in their turn.