Monday, March 1, 2021

Arafat’s widow says under fire for defending UAE on Israel deal

Suha Arafat says she has been threatened and widely attacked on social media, a fact she blames on the Palestinian leadership she believes is fanning the flames.

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The widow of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has told an Israeli TV station that she is under attack by Palestinian Authority (PA) leaders for friendly comments she made to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), after it announced its normalisation of ties with Israel.

Suha Arafat, currently living in Sliema, Malta, wrote in an Instagram post that she wished to apologise “in the name of the Palestinian people for a few Palestinians burning UAE flags and other insults made against the Emirates”.

“This is not of our morals, nor our customs, nor our traditions,” she wrote.

She urged Palestinians to “study history well to learn how the UAE, past and present, supported the Palestinian people and its cause”.

She said the people of the Emirates are a “generous and kind people who have always welcomed us with every bit of graciousness”.

Since writing that post, Arafat says she has been threatened and widely attacked on social media, a fact she blames squarely on the Palestinian leadership she believes is fanning the flames.

In an interview with Israel’s Kan TV news Thursday, Arafat decried the “thought police” she said were hounding her since she wrote the post. “All of this just because I said not to burn flags?”

She also criticised the PA’s official response to the UAE’s initiative, which Ramallah deemed a “despicable decision and a betrayal”.

For its part, the UAE says it compelled Israel to call off planned partial West Bank annexation plans as part of the normalisation deal, and that this gives Israel and the Palestinians a new opportunity to negotiate.

The PA called for the UAE to “immediately retract” its agreement with Israel, a call Abu Dhabi so far appears to have ignored. It also recalled its ambassador to the UAE in protest over the agreement.

Arafat said her brother Jibran al-Tawil was being harassed as well. Al-Tawil is currently the PA’s ambassador to Cyprus. According to her, he was summoned in recent days for questioning in Ramallah after refusing to organize action against the UAE at the embassy.

She also appeared concerned by attempts to remove the monthly US$12,000 (RM50,000) she receives from the PA as the widow of Yasser Arafat.

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