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Tears, Disbelief Characterized Arafat’s First Reaction to Murder

Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat broke down in tears after learning of Yitzhak Rabin’s death, according to the U.S. official in Jerusalem who conveyed the news.

Edward Abington, U.S. consul general in Jerusalem, called the Palestinian leader at his Gaza home Saturday night to tell him that Rabin had died of his wounds, a senior aide at the consulate said.

According to Abington, Arafat asked three times whether Rabin was dead. Arafat then broke down in tears.

Arafat then told Abington that making peace with the Palestinians had cost Rabin his life.

Arafat called Rabin a very courageous man, according to the aide.

“It had taken more courage to move toward peace with the Palestinians than Jordan and Egypt and that is what in fact cost him his life,” Abington reported Arafat as saying.

As consul general in Jerusalem, Abington is responsible for relations with the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

Arafat conveyed similar sentiments to Leah Rabin in an early morning phone call Sunday.

Leah Rabin told CNN, “I was moved. I was really moved” by Arafat’s public comments.

Arafat told CNN that watching the funeral “was very painful for me especially when I was looking to my sister, Mrs. Rabin.”

When asked what Arafat would tell his daughter about Rabin, he told CNN, “That I lost one of our cousins. He’s the real partner with me for the peace process, who had lost his life for the peace in this area.”

“This loss is not only a loss for the Israelis and the Palestinians, but the whole world. Because this is a loss for the peace,” he said. “You know that we are more than friends. We are partners.”

Israeli officials asked Arafat not to attend the funeral due to security concerns. Five senior PLO officials did attend.

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