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Monday, November 15, 2004

Suha advised to stay away from Ramallah funeral for her safety

Suha's always good for a laugh. - EoZ

Yasser Arafat's widow, Suha, was advised on Friday not to come to Ramallah for her husband's funeral for fear that she would be attacked by angry Palestinians, a Palestinian cabinet minister said on Saturday.

'We told her that it would be unwise for her to show up in Ramallah,' the minister told The Jerusalem Post. 'We also made it clear to her that we would not be able to guarantee her safety during the funeral in the Mukata compound.'

Suha and her nine-year-old daughter, Zahwa, on Friday attended Arafat's state funeral near Cairo International Airport and were planning to escort his coffin to Ramallah. But shortly before she boarded the Egyptian plane that carried the coffin from Cairo to al-Arish, from where it was taken aboard a military helicopter to Ramallah, Egyptian and Palestinian officials pleaded with Suha to stay behind.

Egyptian General Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman reportedly told Suha that the Palestinians would not be able to guarantee her safety once she appeared in Ramallah.

'He told her that no one would be able to protect her from the thousands of people participating in Arafat's funeral in Ramallah,' said a Palestinian security source. 'We also told her that it would be impossible to control the crowd and that she should not come to Ramallah.'

The source said that at first Suha had refused to stay in Cairo, arguing that she had every right to be at her husband's funeral. But after she consulted with friends, she agreed not to go to Ramallah.

There was a rumor that Suha and Zahwa had arrived in the helicopter in Ramallah but were were afraid to leave it and stayed inside.

'We were waiting for her so we could spit in her face,' said Nadia Sufian, who works for a local women's organization. 'She didn't come because she knew that we would not have allowed her into the Mukata.'

Jamileh Taisir, a university student from one of the villages surrounding Ramallah, said her colleagues had planned to demonstrate against Suha if she showed up in Ramallah.

'We were even prepared to beat her up,' she added. 'She has no right to be here, because she abandoned her husband while he was imprisoned in his office for almost three years. She has betrayed not only her husband, but the entire Palestinian people.'

Suha's mother, Raymonda Tawil, has taken her place at the conference hall in the Mukata, where many Palestinians on Saturday came to offer their condolences. Tawil, a renowned poet and writer, stood next to senior PA officials as they shook hands and embraced the thousands of people who had begun arriving at the Mukata in the early morning.

Suha enraged many Palestinians last week when she accused top Palestinian officials of seeking to bury her husband alive. The accusation was made in an emotional pre-dawn appeal aired on Al-Jazeera."