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Palestinians to mark sixth anniversary of Arafat

yasir arafatRAMALLAH: Palestinians in a great number gathered in Ramallah to mark the sixth anniversary of the death of Yasser Arafat on Thursday ,as peace talks with Israel remained stuck in a stubborn stalemate.

Men and women walked through the shut-down streets to the square across from the white mausoleum where the iconic leader is buried Waving Palestinians flags and the yellow flags of the Fatah party that Arafat started.

Arafat’s successor president Mahmud Abbas, Around noon (1000 GMT) was to address crowds at the site of his grave, which is now the centrepiece of a new museum being built in his honour.

Huge crowds were expected to attend a series of events celebrating the life of Arafat, who is remembered by many as a passionate proponent of Palestinian rights and who led his people through nearly four decades of armed struggle and peace negotiations.

But, in a sign of continuing Palestinian divisions, Gaza’s Hamas rulers had reportedly banned any public commemoration of the anniversary, a rights group said.

The sixth anniversary of Arafat’s death comes as Abbas toys with plans to seek United Nations recognition for a unilateral declaration of Palestinian independence.

The suggestion comes as direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, which were launched on September 2, remain mired in a deadlock over the issue of Jewish settlement construction.

The negotiations ground to a halt just six weeks after they started with the expiry of a 10-month moratorium on Jewish construction in the West Bank, with the Palestinians refusing to continue talks while Israel builds on land they want for a future state

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