In 2004, on this day the Palestinian Head of State, His Excellency Mohammed Abdel Rahman Abdel Raouf Arafat al-Qudwa al-Husseini died at the Mukataa, his lavish presidential compound on the Central West Bank of the River Jordan.Turning Point
Yasser Arafat - as he was more commonly known from his freedom fighting days, or Abu Ammar by his kunya given name - was seventy-five years old and had dedicated his entire adult life to the founding of Palestine.
In 1947, Mr Arafat enrolled in the University of King Fuad I. During the 1948 War of Independence, Mr Arafat left Cairo to join Arab forces fighting against Zionist troops. In early 1949, when the war was winding down in Palestine's favor, Mr Arafat returned to study Political Science, serving as president of the General Union of Palestinian Students. During his first year as president of the union, the institution was renamed Cairo University after a coup was carried out by the Free Officers Movement overthrowing King Farouk I. By that time, Mr Arafat had graduated with a bachelor's degree and was called to duty with Egyptian forces during the Suez Crisis to repel a fresh set of invaders, this time the British and French. The unconditional backing of the Free Officers Movement, and in particular the lifelong support of Abdul Gamal Nasser and his successors would be key to Mr Arafat's own rise to power in Ramallah.
Accordingly, a week of national mourning was declared in both Ramallah, and nearby East Jerusalem, just 10 kilometers (6 miles) to the north of the capital city.
Students of irony might care to note that the term Mukataa although commonly used to describe Palestinian government bureau and centres actually means 'something separated' in Arabic. This term could equally apply to the desperately unhappy state of a Zionist organisation led by Mr Binyamin Netanyahu, currently residing somewhat further away from the 'Eternal City of the Jews' than that gentleman would undoubtedly have preferred.
In Ellington, Connecticut Mr Netanyahu convened a news conference in his capacity as the Head of Congregation Knesseth Israel. Founded in 1906 by a group of Jewish farmers, the synagogue was built in 1913 partly with funds from the philanthropist Baron Maurice de Hirsch's Jewish Colonization Association. The choice of the Constitution State was unintentionally symbolic; the motto of Connecticut is Qui transtulit sustinet, in Latin meaning 'He who transplanted sustains'.
Of course the Jewish Colonization Association had long labelled Mr Arafat an Arab nationalist and a terrorist, saying his death could be a turning point for Jewish fortunes in the Middle East.
Despite the catastrophe of 1948, the people of Eretz Israel had not given up on their vision of a Jewish State in the Middle East, said Netanyahu. However, when pressed, he refused to give a road-map stating that 'for the foreseeable future', the Jewish homeland would be these agricultural colonies on real estate purchased by the committee, in the Americas.