Abbas dedicates Yasser Arafat's mausoleum


Nation & World

November 11, 2007

RAMALLAH, West Bank -- Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas dedicated Yasser Arafat's sleek new mausoleum in a ceremony yesterday, drawing on his predecessor's continued popularity as he heads into peace negotiations with Israel.

The dedication of the mausoleum, on the third anniversary of Arafat's death, was meant to boost Abbas' legitimacy as he faces a stiff challenge from the rival Hamas.

Arafat died at age 75 in a French military hospital, after spending his final years under Israeli siege at his West Bank headquarters. The exact cause of death remains unknown, fueling persistent rumors that he was poisoned or died of AIDS.

Israel has denied involvement in his death.

The mausoleum, made of glass and beige Jerusalem stone, is surrounded on three sides by water, and a piece of railroad track is entombed underneath Arafat's grave. The water and track are meant to symbolize the temporary nature of the burial site, officials said, with Palestinians planning to rebury their former leader one day in Jerusalem, their hoped-for capital.

A mosque has been built next to the tomb, and an Arafat museum is to open at the site next year.

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