Suha Arafat apologises to UAE over Israel normalisation protests

Yasser Arafat's widow apologises to UAE over protests following Israel normalisation
3 min read
22 August, 2020
While UAE media and mouthpieces are in raptures over her apology, senior Palestinian officials have distanced themselves from the statement.
Suha carries no official position within the Palestinian Authority [Getty]
The widow of former Palestinian President and PLO chairman Yasser Arafat has issued an apology to the UAE over protests against a controversial US-brokered deal to normalise relations with Israel.

Claiming to speak on behalf of all Palestinians, 57-year-old Suha Arafat lamented the "desecration" of the UAE flag "in Jerusalem and Palestine", referring to mass protests which erupted in the West Bank following the deal's announcement last week.

In a lengthy Instagram post, Arafat apologised for more acts of arson, including burning images of Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed, which she called "the symbols of the beloved UAE country".

"These are not our values, morals and traditions," she wrote, calling on the "current generation" to "read history well to learn how the UAE supported the Palestinian people and cause in the past and present".

The former Palestinian first lady even expressed maternal responsibility, by singling out "the mother of the Emirates, her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak" in her apology to the Emirati leaders for Palestinians' "irresponsible behaviour", in her words.

While UAE media are in raptures over her apology, senior Palestinian officials have distanced themselves from the statement.

"I did not mandate anyone to apologize on my behalf to the UAE after it normalised its relations [with Israel]" Munir al-Jaghoub, a senior official within Fatah, the party founded by Arafat, wrote on Twitter.

"I think many Palestinians do not want to apologise to [the UAE] and did not authorise anyone to apologise," al-Jaghoub added.

An unnamed PLO official from Ramallah told The Jerusalem Post: "Who asked this woman to speak on behalf of the Palestinians?"

"She is making it seem as if those who criticised the United Arab Emirates are not honourable people. She needs to keep her mouth shut," the official said.

Read also: UAE activists sign petition condemning Israel normalisation deal as 'violation of the constitution'

Palestinians of all political leanings – from the secular Fatah to the Hamas Islamists – have been unanimous in their condemnation of the deal, viewing the UAE as sacrificing the Palestinian cause to gain commercial relations with Israel.

While the agreement supposedly delays Israel's plans to unilaterally annex large swathes of the West Bank and Jordan Valley, many Palestinians feel betrayed.

Arafat, who carries no official position within the Palestinian Authority, has lived in Malta for the past decade.

Following the death of her husband in 2004, she moved to Tunisia along with her daughter, where she obtained citizenship.

That was revoked in 2007 and four years later an international arrest warrant was issued for Arafat over her ties to a corruption scandal involving former Tunisian first lady Leila Ben Ali.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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