Israel presses France to amend Arafat record

28th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 28 (AFP) - Israel has sent three letters to the French government demanding it prove Yasser Arafat was born in Jerusalem as printed on his death certificate, an Israeli diplomat in Paris said Sunday.

PARIS, Nov 28 (AFP) - Israel has sent three letters to the French government demanding it prove Yasser Arafat was born in Jerusalem as printed on his death certificate, an Israeli diplomat in Paris said Sunday.

The official requests follow protests from Israel that Arafat was really born in the Egyptian capital Cairo and not Jerusalem.

The distinction is symbolically crucial because Palestinians claim Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, but Israel has shown it has no intention of ceding any part of the holy city.

Arafat, long the public face of the Palestinian struggle for statehood, was declared dead in a French military hospital on the outskirts of Paris on November 11.

The official Palestinian version of his life history records he was born in Jerusalem on August 4, 1929, named Mohammed Abdel-Rawf Arafat al-Qudwa al-Hussaini.

However numerous biographers agree that he was, in fact, born in Cairo, where his father, from Gaza, owned a business.

Israel's ambassador to France, Nissim Zvili, on Thursday told journalists: "I cannot understand how the French government agreed to issue a death certificate based on false information."

According to the Israeli diplomat speaking Sunday on condition of anonymity, the three letters were sent to the local municipality of Clamart where the military hospital is located, to the French state prosecutor's office, and to Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin.

Municipal officials at Clamart, where Arafat died on November 11, said they issued the death certificate on the basis of Arafat family records themselves written up by the French foreign ministry in 1996 following the birth of Arafat's daughter Zahwa in a Paris hospital. Arafat's widow Suha shares her time between France and Tunisia.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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