Socialist International honours the legacy of Yasser Arafat

11 November 2004

The Socialist International, the worldwide organisation of social democratic, socialist and labour parties, honours with deep respect and appreciation the memory of President Yasser Arafat and extends its heartfelt condolences to the Palestinian people who have today lost a President, the architect of their unity and the symbol of their independence and freedom.

Yasser Arafat, as President of the Palestinian Authority, leader of the Palestine Liberation Organisation and Chairman of Fatah, led throughout four decades with resolve and commitment the aspirations of the Palestinian people towards the establishment of a state of their own upon which to build with dignity a future of opportunities and inclusion for all Palestinians.

The Socialist International, long active for the peaceful resolution of the conflict in the Middle East, has been a platform for dialogue and negotiation for Palestinians and Israelis for many years. Since the discussions in the 1970s of Chairman Arafat with former German Chancellor Willy Brandt and former Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky, many other leaders of the Socialist International have been directly involved in political efforts to advance the cause of peace for the peoples in the region. Yasser Arafat was always, in these undertakings, a partner for dialogue and a leader who dealt with the realities and with the challenges he faced.

Many were the achievements of President Arafat for which he will be long remembered and recognised. His vision of an independent state was not realised during his lifetime despite all his efforts, as the international community has not yet delivered on the promise, the hope and the commitment to make peace in the Middle East a reality for the benefit of all the peoples of the world.

Today from the capitals of Europe, and those of the Arab world, from the cities of Israel to those of Africa, Latin America and Asia, millions of people salute the life of this man and renew their call to realise the vision of two states, Palestine and Israel, living side by side in peace.

Peace is not yet within our reach, Palestinians and Israelis live still through hardship and pain, but we know already that the struggle of Yasser Arafat, whom we mourn today, will continue to be decisive to achieve the "peace of the brave" he sought all his life.

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