Abbas speaks against settlements at Arafat memorial

Mahmoud Abbas told thousands of Palestinians gathered for a Yasser Arafat memorial that “The Palestinian state will arise when it is cleared of settlements.”

The Palestinian Authority president also told the crowd in Ramallah marking the sixth anniversary of Arafat’s death that he would not sign a peace agreement unless it included the release of all Palestinian prisoners, according to Ynet.

Memorial participants were bused to the Mukata, the PA headquarters, from all over the West Bank. Many in the crowd wore Arafat’s trademark black-checkered keffiyah and waved Palestinian flags.

In the Gaza Strip, Hamas officials broke up an Arafat memorial consisting of two dozen people screening a film about Arafat, who headed the rival Palestinian Fatah Party.

Arafat was the Palestinian Authority chairman when he died in 2004 at a French hospital from complications of the flu. Some Palestinians still contend that he was poisoned by Israel, though no traces of poison were found in his system after his death.