Press Release
Contact Information: Hussein Ibish
November 11, 2004 - 1:00am

Washington DC, Nov. 11 -- The American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) offered its condolences today on the passing of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, to his family and to the Palestinian people. Chairman Arafat passed away today at a hospital in Paris, France.

Mr. Arafat was the chairman of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the elected president of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the head of Fatah. Beyond his official titles, Yasser Arafat was almost universally regarded as the leader of the Palestinian people, a historic figure who could unite all segments of Palestinian society, and a unique icon of Palestinian national identity. He was preeminent among that generation of Palestinians who, in the wake of the devastation of the 1948 war, came together to build a national movement from the remnants of Palestinian society in its Diaspora throughout the Arab world and beyond. In this context, Arafat served as the father of contemporary Palestinian national consciousness, an achievement and legacy acknowledged by friend and foe alike.

In the 1980s, Arafat was instrumental in building a consensus in the Palestinian national movement in favor of resolving the conflict with Israel on the basis of two states living side by side in peace, and making this the official goal of the PLO. In 1994, Arafat was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace along with Israeli leaders Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, “for their efforts to create peace in the Middle East.” Sadly, this goal of peace based on a Palestinian state alongside Israel was not to be fulfilled in his lifetime.

ATFP is gratified that the Palestinian leadership, institutions and people have demonstrated unity, internal cohesion and responsibility during this difficult transition, and is confident they will continue to do so.

Ziad Asali, President of the ATFP said, “the Palestinian leadership has an historic opportunity to build a viable state by upholding the rule of law, respecting national established institutions and by holding national elections. He called on the Bush Administration, as well as the international community, to support the Palestinian people in their quest for peace, freedom and statehood.”


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017