Palestinians embrace the president's wife

December 15, 1998|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip -- Of many standing ovations at the Shawwa Cultural Center yesterday, one of the warmest went to the other Clinton in the house, the U.S. president's wife, Hillary.

Welcomed by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat as a "great and generous guest," Hillary Rodham Clinton beamed to the audience, her daughter, Chelsea, at her side. Mrs. Clinton and Arafat's wife, Suha, seemed genuinely friendly, walking arm in arm and whispering to each other as though sharing confidences.

Mrs. Clinton, who visited a school for disabled children yesterday, is praised here as a strong woman who stands by her family in the worst of times, attracting fans on both sides of the national divide. But especially among Palestinians, the first lady has earned special status because she is remembered for having declared in May her support for a Palestinian state.

Pub Date: 12/15/98

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