Palestinians were left furious after Suha Arafat, the widow of former Palestinian president Yasser Arafat apologised to the UAE for protests against UAE-Israel normalisation the New Arab reported.
The 57-year-old former first lady, who has not lived in Palestine since 2004, issued a long apology on behalf of all Palestinians in a rambling Instagram post, in which she apologised for Palestinians burning effigies of UAE leaders including burning images of Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed, which she called “the symbols of the beloved UAE country”.
She said: “I want to apologise, in the name of the honourable among the Palestinian people, to the Emirati people and their leadership for the desecration and burning of the UAE flag in Jerusalem and Palestine, and for insulting the symbols of the beloved UAE.”
Arafat went on to praise the UAE for its ‘support of the Palestinian people’ and implored people to ‘read history’ to understand how the UAE have supported Palestine.
She wrote: “Our generations need to read history well to learn how the UAE supported the Palestinian people and cause in the past and present. I apologize to the people and leadership of the UAE for any harm done by any Palestinian to this generous and kind [Emirati] people, who have always welcomed us.”
The former Palestinian first lady even expressed a maternal responsibility, by singling out “the mother of the Emirates, her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak” in her apology to the Emirati leaders for Palestinians’ “irresponsible behaviour”, in her words.
The leadership of the Palestinian political party Fatah, of which the late Yasser Arafat founded, were quick to distance themselves from the apology.
Senior Fatah official Munir al-Jaghoub said: ”I did not mandate anyone to apologize on my behalf to the UAE after it normalised its relations [with Israel].”
“I think many Palestinians do not want to apologise to [the UAE] and did not authorise anyone to apologise,” he added.
A Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) official, who was not named, scathingly told the Jerusalem Post: “Who asked this woman to speak on behalf of Palestinians? She is making it seem as if those who criticised the United Arab Emirates are not honourable people. She needs to keep her mouth shut.”
After the death of her husband in 2004, she and her daughter, Zahwa, moved to Tunisia and gained Tunisian citizenships.
However, in 2007, Tunisia revoked her citizenship. Four years later, the Tunis Court of First Instance issued an international arrest warrant for her in connection with a corruption scandal that involved the former Tunisian first lady, Leila Ben Ali.