On Nov. 16 the National Board of the Communist Party USA issued the following statement from its offices in New York City.

The Communist Party USA expresses its deep sorrow on the death of Yasser Arafat, the decades-long leader and larger-than-life symbol of the Palestinian people’s quest for justice, human rights, self-determination and statehood.

From his earliest days as a student activist, to his later roles as chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and president of the Palestinian Authority, Arafat devoted his entire life to the cause of his people’s freedom, to an end to the cruel U.S.-backed Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands seized in the 1967 war, and to the cause of national liberation and peace.

Despite incessant efforts by the Israeli government to vilify and discredit him, despite all the slanders and snubs (including by President George W. Bush, who shunned the Palestinian leader in his last years), Arafat remained until the very end a dignified symbol of resistance to colonial occupation and aggression, and a steadfast champion of freedom and justice.

Whether he was presenting the case for the human and national rights of the Palestinian people before the United Nations, or building the PLO, or meeting with leaders of the Israeli and U.S. peace movements — which he frequently did — Arafat was untiring in his search for a just resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

He rejected terrorism as a path to liberation, and harshly condemned the harming of innocents. He and the PLO officially recognized Israel’s right to exist within secure borders.

At the same time, Arafat was unyielding in his support for the internationally recognized right of the Palestinian people to resist the Israeli occupation, and he refused to give up East Jerusalem or to renounce the right of Palestinian refugees to return. For that he was condemned and reviled by the U.S. and Israeli governments.

At a time when the United States is seeking to recolonize Iraq and to dominate the entire Middle East, and as our government continues to pour billions of dollars each year into Israeli coffers for new missiles, bombs, helicopter gunships, apartheid-like walls, and prisons to subjugate the Palestinian people, we vow to redouble our efforts to build solidarity with the embattled people of Palestine.

The Communist Party USA pledges to honor Yasser Arafat’s memory by intensifying the campaign against the illegal, U.S.-backed Israeli occupation and against all U.S. efforts to meddle in the affairs of the Palestinian people.

We join with other peace forces, including Jewish peace activists in the U.S. and Israel, in calling for an end to all U.S. military aid to Israel until it returns to its 1967 borders. We support a two-state solution, with the state of Israel alongside a sovereign, viable, and contiguous state of Palestine with its capital in East Jerusalem. And we support the right of return to Israel of all Palestinian refugees, as spelled out in the relevant UN resolutions.

The road to peace in the Middle East is through justice and self-determination, adherence to international law, and strict compliance with the historic UN resolutions on Palestine and the Palestinian people. There is no other path. We stand firmly for that path.

We offer our deepest condolences to the family, comrades, and friends of President Yasser Arafat.