Sorrowful day for Palestine and the peace process

11 November 2004

Sorrowful day for Palestine and the peace process

“The death of President Yasser Arafat means that this is a dark day for the Palestinians and for the peace process," said SP Member of Parliament Harry van Bommel today. The SP believes that it is of the greatest importance that the Netherlands is represented at the funeral at the highest level. “Arafat deserves to be honoured as a friendly head of state. He was a negotiating partner of the Dutch government."

“It is a sad and sorrowful day for the Palestinians," said Mr Van Bommel. “They have lost the father of the fatherland of which they dream. But it is also a sad day for the peace process. Arafat was the only leader who could claim to speak for the whole of the Palestinian people and hold them together under the Israeli occupation. It will be a difficult task for the interim leadership to prevent the radicalisation under pressure of present circumstances of a section of the Palestinian people.”

Mr Van Bommel visited President Arafat at the beginning of the year at his isolated headquarters in the company of SP Senator and well-known writer Anja Meulenbelt. The Palestinian leader at that time issued an urgent call to the SP to use the Dutch Presidency of the European Union, which runs from July to December of this year, to persuade the EU to play a more active role in the peace process. At the same time he told his visitors that he believed that the separation wall would make the Road Map to peace unworkable.

“Arafat deserves to be honoured as a friendly head of state," added Van Bommel. "He was a partner in negotiations with our government and the presence of the minister president, the head of that government, at the funeral is essential, given the fact that the Netherlands currently holds the EU Presidency and in view of the EU’s involvement in the Road Map peace process. Just as importantly it would represent a gesture of respect to the grieving Palestinian population. And if you look at the situation in our own country, I think it is also important that foreign minister Bernard Bot accompany him."

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