Gaza gives a quiet welcome home to Mr and Mrs Arafat

WITH no ceremony this time, no crowds, and no public address, Yasser Arafat, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, arrived in the Gaza Strip yesterday, with his wife, Suha, to take up permanent residence and set down the foundations for a Palestinian state.

Like anyone moving house and starting a new job, all at the same time, Mr Arafat, 64, clearly found the move from Tunis to Gaza a tiring experience. Within three hours of his arrival he was tucked up in bed in the brand-new five-star Palestine Hotel. A handful of women and children stood outside, hoping to catch a glimpse of him, along with a crowd of hopeful reporters.

'Go home. Mr Arafat has gone to sleep,' said Marwan Kanafani, his spokesman, speaking to the press which was asking for the PLO chairman's plans for the coming days.

Suha Arafat, 29, wearing her hair loose, with beige jacket and skirt, appeared more lively when she smiled broadly and announced that she planned to 'work for the liberation of women', a remark that will be treated with some scepticism in traditional Gaza, where almost every woman wears a veil.

It still appeared uncertain where the PLO chairman will live in Gaza. One suggestion was that he and his wife would move into the old governor's mansion, previously occupied by the Israeli border police.

Ten days after his first whistle-stop homecoming to Gaza, Mr Arafat crossed the border with Egypt yesterday at 10.30am, declaring his determination to get down to the laborious task of rebuilding Palestinian infrastruture. 'Don't forget that the Palestinian infrastructure was completely destroyed during the Israeli occupation and we must start from scratch,' he said before leaving Egypt.

Reports that Mr Arafat would arrive home with a group of Palestinian orphans, to be adopted by Gazan families, proved unfounded. The only people accompanying him were aides and bureaucrats who were also transferring their operations from Tunis.

Mr Arafat again by-passed the main border-crossing terminal, to avoid the humiliation of having to pass through Israeli checks. Two months after the signing of the Gaza-Jericho agreement, arrangement for a separate Palestinian terminal, with a Palestinian policeman at the border, have still not been finalised.

The PLO convoy sped north to Gaza City, but this time there was only a handful of onlookers to wave Mr Arafat and his wife by.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect