In Jerusalem Arabs have been praying for Arafat against a backdrop of even higher security than normal.
In this city sacred to both muslims and jews tensions are always high and Israeli forces are bracing for an outpouring of Palestinian grief. Arafat’s death would immediately throw up another cause of conflict – where the Palestinian leader would be laid to rest. It is believed he has expressed a desire to be buried near the Al Aqsa Mosque, which is revered by jews as the Temple Mount. Justice Minister Tommy Lapid has made starkly clear where he stands on the issue. He said Jerusalem is the city where Jewish kings are buried and not “arab terrorists.” Emotive words which probably reflect the sentiments of Ariel Sharon but so far the Israeli prime minister has indicated he will only comment on the situation when and if the the Palestinian leader is officially declared dead. Sharon has said Arafat would be allowed to return to his headquarters in Ramallah if he recovers.