"Salam-shalom" : A Palestinian diplomat killed

Naim KhaderThe Palestinian flag covered the coffin, when the Brussels based PLO-representative, Naim Kader, was buried after being shot in the middle of the street in a suburb of the Belgian capital. He was an amiable man, intelligent and open to European values and culture. As a diplomat and moderate Palestinian, he had succeeded in establishing close links and creating much goodwill in Belgium and with the international institutions in Brussels. In fact, Naim Khader was instrumental in developing a new, balanced European policy with regard to the Palestinian question. His murder was a painful loss, for which possibly some extremist Palestinian fractions were responsible. Together with his Belgian wife Bernadette and an armed Palestinian guard of honour, I accompanied the body on a special flight to Beirut, which was welcomed by PLO-chairman Yasser Arafat. Beirut at that time was in the midst of a cruel civil war, and in the funeral procession even triple A weapons were securing protection. The requiem mass was held in the catholic Saint Francis church, in the middle of the muslim district of Beirut. Since Israel would only allow a burial on the West bank under its own conditions, the body was brought to the Jordanian capital Amman where the funeral ended in a highly emotional and militant rally.