Proof that Sharon had Arafat Poisoned
Yasser Arafat Photo by Pierre Turgeman / Archive
|A gallery of Arafat's final personal possessions, which were analysed by some of the world's top forensic pathologists.|
|Arafat & Clayton Swisher - Author of the Palestine Papers|
It would now appear that the mystery is solved. The same highly radioactive substance that Putin used to kill Alexander Litvinenko in London in November 2006, Polonium, was used to murder Arafat. Why? Not because Arafat wasn’t a tyrant, collaborator, corrupt etc. He was all these things and more. But what he wasn’t was a Quisling. That title belongs to Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority. Despite his many warts, Arafat retained a certain independence. He understood, in however a distant and fragmented way, that he represented a challenge to Zionist hegemony and in particular Sharon’s dream of transferring the Palestinians of the West Bank across the Jordan.
Abbas by contrast and his World Banker Prime Minister Fayed understand nothing and are willing to do everything the Israelis instruct them to. That was why Arafat had to die.
Tests Hint at Possible Arafat Poisoning
Nine-month investigation by Al Jazeera discovers rare, radioactive polonium on ex-Palestinian leader's final belongings.
So I think that this is what one can say of Arafat. As a whole, my impression of the man, I never came to negotiate with Arafat from a sense that I’m talking to a bloodthirsty enemy which some of my colleagues felt. I came to this man from a position of respect. To me, he was an intriguing figure, very intriguing. I’m not sure I understood him fully. The whole process was, for me, a process of discovery of a man very complex, very complicated. Sometimes I think that to write a biography of Arafat, you would need a Talmudic scholar and you had always to interpret what he meant by what he said.
I think it was Lloyd George who said of de Valera, the Irish leader, that negotiating with de Valera is like picking up mercury with a fork. More or less, this is Arafat. I mean, it was extremely difficult to come with something tangible. He would never close a door. He would never lock a door. He will always leave options open. He will never commit himself fully and irreversibly. His language was always ambiguous. It was clear to me that he wanted an agreement. It was never clear to me what were the conditions for such an agreement, and, therefore, you always had the sense that Arafat was drawing you into a black hole where there was no wall where you stopped negotiating.
No, if I were a Palestinian, I said many times, I would not have accepted the deal, whatever this deal might have been because as I’ve said before, there were different interpretations of what was put on the table in Camp David. But I admit that that was not sufficient for the Palestinians. That did not meet the minimal requirements of the Palestinians for a deal with Israel.
I thought different when it came to the Clinton peace parameters a few months later. There, I thought the Palestinians committed a historic mistake, and I’m not alone. Others in the Palestinian camp thought the same, and Bandar bin Sultan as well in a famous interview in The New Yorker thought that the rejection of the Clinton peace parameters by Arafat was a capital crime against the Arab nation or the Palestinian people as he said.
Well, I think that, frankly, as far as I can know, I mean, I was not privy to any orchestrated campaign, but what I can say is that Clinton was much more sensitive and sensible to the worries of Barak than to the political constraints of Arafat. Therefore, once the summit ended, the focus of the American administration was how to save Barak from the political price he’s going to pay in Israel for the failure of the summit. Not exactly for the failure of the summit, but you see, my understanding of Israeli public opinion is this, Clayton.
The Israelis, even today - even today, in my view - would accept almost every deal that a legitimate government would sign, and they will not punish politically the prime minister. They will punish the prime minister if they know of the concessions that he made and yet did not reach a deal. This is like being a sucker.
That was the problem of Barak in the wake of the Camp David summit, that people in Israel would know that he negotiated Jerusalem. He was ready to divide the Old City. He was considering all kinds of formulas on sovereignty in Temple Mount for the Palestinians, and yet he did not reach an agreement. So, he is a sucker. Who needs such a leader?
This is where Clinton thought he needs to try and ease Barak’s way into Israeli public opinion. That is the campaign as it were because then they say that Arafat was to blame and the rest of it. There were even talks between Israel and the American administration. I think that they were nonstarters where Barak wanted, for example, that the American embassy would move to Jerusalem, you know, too much for that particular moment in the relations and especially entirely irrelevant to the peace process. If the Americans wanted to get back into the game that was obviously not something they could do. But that was, again, that was the focus.
Arafat’s is a dictatorship. He doesn’t have any problem with public opinion, and they were not too wrong really. I mean, he came back to Palestine as a hero. I stood, I show steadfastness in front of two allies - Israel and America - and there was no sellout of Palestinian interest. So he came back to a euphoric, almost euphoric audience. So the understanding of the Americans was not too wrong really when they say that the political problems of Barak are different than those of Arafat.
No. I always thought -- no, I thought that he was ill because he had some illness. There were all kinds of legends about his health. It never crossed my mind that Israel would have anything to do with his death. Among other reasons because I thought that the very existence of Arafat was politically an asset for Sharon. He could always say, look, am I going to negotiate with this extremist, with this radical leader? Because if Arafat passes away, he will have to negotiate with Abu Mazen, people that he cannot easily dismiss as unworthy as interlocutors. This is why it could not occur to me that there is interest in Israel of seeing Arafat pass away.
No. Well, you’re putting me in a position to explain the logic which I’ve not been privy to - of this kind of operation as of Shabak, et cetera. But the way I understood 26 is that even Yassin -- first, to begin with, I think that all these targeted killings did not change iota in this process. To me, that’s the bottom line. The Palestinians continue to ask the same requirements that they wanted always for a peace deal, and it helped nothing, practically. And if they decided to stop suicide terrorism, it was not because of targeted killings; because it did not do anything good to the Palestinian, of course. Today, they are in a different strategy, not because Israel got rid of Sheikh Yassin or anybody else.
Again, in my interpretation of things, Sheikh Yassin was the leader of a movement that was at the time producing havoc among Israelis, whether a thousand Israelis killed -- no, a thousand, was it? Or throughout the Second Intifada, and therefore, you were getting rid of a leader that was sending directly or indirectly, or inspiring people, or giving legitimacy to this mass campaign of suicide terrorism. That was the way that one could understand it.
But Arafat was somebody that was negotiating with you. He was negotiating. He was the one that if you give a sober interpretation of his role throughout the last 20 years, you would see that he was the man with whom you need to have a kind of peace deal; otherwise, there is not going to be any kind of deal. So I draw a line between the way Israel fought leaders of Hamas during the Second Intifada and the person of Arafat.
Yes, but all this does not necessarily lead to a physical assassination. They were trying to diminish his political clout, his political influence. And I saw it also as a way -- frankly, again, to me, it remains to be proved that Israel got rid physically of Arafat. I saw this campaign to appoint the prime minister, et cetera as part of the reforms that Israel and others were seeing as a prerequisite for a viable peace process. And frankly, I always saw that this was one shortcoming of the Palestinian National Movement. This is where Zionism had the upper hand.
You see, when Israel declared the state in 1948, a state for all practical purposes existed already. This is what Salam Fayyad understands today, and this is why institution-building and state-building is a prerequisite to state creation or to state declaration. This is how I saw it. I didn’t see it as a way that its natural conclusion is that if it doesn’t work we’ll get rid of him physically. I simply didn’t see it that way.
By Al Jazeera
These are extended clips from our interview with Mohammed Rashid, a longtime adviser to Arafat, who talks about the last time he saw the late Palestinian leader and about threats made against him.
Okay. Uh, it is, it is just, just to blame White House the, the way they campaigned against Arafat after the failure of Camp David in July 2000 because he had enough guarantees from President Clinton. If Camp David will not achieve the agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, he will not to be blamed after that.
He was very, very careful that he will be, he will be exposed to a severe campaign, Israeli-American campaign, if Camp David would not go through and if the agreement will not be achieved.
And he knew he will be paying very high personal price. He was hesitating to go to Camp David before, before he went there. And based on promises and guarantees he received from the White House that if things not working in Camp David he will not be exposed to attacks. And that was the only, uh, only, only condition when he accepted to go based on it to, to the negotiation and to try this path.
In January 10th, 2001 after the last visit to Washington, I wrote a long letter to President Arafat. I resigned from my job, and I wrote him a long letter. I was here in London, and I sent him the letter to Tunisia where he was visiting for a few days. In that letter, I described my opinions, my analysis - what will happen? And, uh, I can tell you the, the main issue in my analysis was that he is now exposed to a serious danger, whether as a political leader of the Palestinian people, top leader, or even physical threat. I, I saw it clearly. It’s coming up because Barak was about to lose the elections, President Clinton was -- him and his team was leaving the office; a new American team coming in.
It happened I met with some of the new team even before they took the office, and I was hearing from them totally new music to, to the Middle East issue, uh, during the, the periods of the -- of the policy review in Washington. And I -- at least I had one long meeting with, uh, a dear friend, Richard Haass. He was -- by then, he was doing the, uh, policy review. And, uh, it happened I also met the brother of President Bush, one of his brothers. Excuse me to not disclose his name. And they both told me before the last visit - Arafat’s visit to Washington - if President Arafat say yes to President Clinton, then the incoming administration will be committed to the process. But if he will say no, then the new administration will start it all over again from totally new approach and from totally new dimensions.
So it was clear that he has nothing there solid on the table where he can say yes, but also the world wasn’t prepared to hear no. So when, when you’ll be in this critical path, you can see this, this leader that he’s stepping more and more to a very tough situation. What -- which became a reality in 2002, 2002 to 2003, when, uh, especially after Israel elected the new prime minister, Ariel Sharon. And it was clear that we are heading to a serious deadlock which could cause Arafat his political leadership and it could cause him his life as well.
Last time when I saw Sharon, it was -- there was an attack in Netanya. It was a big attack. It caused some 31 Israeli victims. I was on the way to the meeting, and I thought it is just wise to call it off and go back. I spoke to Omri Sharon, and he told me, “No. The prime minister waiting for you. Keep going.” And almost five hours meeting with him, uh, he was avoiding touching on the, on the event. In the last half an hour, I told him, “Mr. Prime Minister, we have to find a solution to stop attacks like these, more attacks like this in the future, and more reactions from the Israeli side on the Palestinians.” Then he told me, “I wasn’t willing to discuss this issue with you, but let me tell you. Tell your boss, next time it will be really tough. And I’m not sure there will be, after the next time, there will be any more time. So I’m fed up with this. This should stop. I hold him personally responsible, and I want, I want him -- let him do what he likes to do, but I want a responsible prime minister to work with me; otherwise, there is nothing, nothing will move.”
So for, for me, this was more than political threat, and especially the tanks were getting closer to Arafat’s bedroom. I, I don’t think there was more than five meters’ distance between the tanks and his bedroom. So it was obvious another attack could lead to catastrophe, even a direct physical catastrophe. But it was obvious, time is ticking and Arafat’s days becoming really short and short. I would say the decision had been made in 2002 to get rid of him, politically and physically.
You will hear lots of rumors. You will hear he was -- he wasn’t young. He was in his mid-70s. In this age in our, in our areas, you always have some diseases, some sickness, some symptoms. Nobody can tell you, because like you, I hear lots of rumors that he ate a piece of chocolate then he vomited and he did this and somebody gave him something. Nobody can tell you when it happened and who did it, and what was the way to do it? But everything tells you those people whom they know the truth, they don’t want to speak about it. Those people whom they need to know the truth, they are not requesting the truth.
What prevents Mr. Abbas or the Palestinian leadership to recommend officially to publish all the medical reports of Arafat in Percy hospital in, in France? Why it is a national secret for the French, sovereignty for the French government? He is the leader of the Palestinian people. Why it, it is, it’s not the top priority for the Palestinians? At least we request officially. Let France Chirac or France Sarkozy or France Hollande say no, no, we cannot do this legally because there is family privacy issue. There is this issue, there is that issue, but nobody requesting. As I’m sitting with you now, we are mid- 2012; there is no official investigation committee on the Palestinian side.
And maybe he, he paid the price at the end of the day; trusted people too much. And let’s not forget, Arafat was a target for assassination five, six times in his life by the same way, poisoning. So we don’t know how many times they failed to reach him. But we know only when they succeeded to get to him, to get to him.
And I’m saying that because I personally believe he was poisoned. And I hope French officials and authorities and doctors can show me wrong. I hope. We need to know the truth. We are strong. The Palestinian people, they are very brave, very strong. They can take any news. They need to know the truth.
So there was no protocol visiting him. There was no food protocol. And when food is on the table, anybody there can be part of that lunch or dinner. Anybody can be a very normal ordinary guest if he’s inside the building. He never used to eat alone - never. I know him at least for 32 years, never saw him eating alone.
This is - excuse my French language - this is bullshit. Twenty-nine French doctors, top doctors, were analyzing his case. After 15 or to 18 days you come up with the -- with the answer, the reason of the death, unknown? What was it? Cancer? Tell us. Heart attack? Tell us. Brain stroke? Tell us. Like some people trying to say, well, it was -- maybe it was AIDS that that’s what they are hiding. No, no, no, say it. As I said, the Palestinian people, they are strong. They are brave. They can take any news. Just say it; throw it out; mention it. What was it?
When you say -- and that’s what I told the French officials because when they enforced the -- I was the first, first one to be informed that his condition is -- he is going down at a severe -- almost he is done. When they said -- when I asked, what, what, what’s the cause? They said unknown. And I told them immediately, “Then you are telling me he was poisoned.” They said we cannot confirm. We cannot deny. So who will confirm and deny if you can’t? If there is -- if it is a national secret for the French government and, and country, let them come out publicly and say, we know but we will not say it. We will -- we know but we will not declare it. It will hurt the national secret interest of, of France.
July 03, 2012 "Al Jazeera" - -
It was a scene that riveted the world for weeks: The ailing Yasser Arafat, first besieged by Israeli tanks in his Ramallah compound, then shuttled to Paris, where he spent his final days undergoing a barrage of medical tests in a French military hospital.
Eight years after his death, it remains a mystery exactly what killed the longtime Palestinian leader. Tests conducted in Paris found no obvious traces of poison in Arafat’s system. Rumors abound about what might have killed him – cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, even allegations that he was infected with HIV.
A nine-month investigation by Al Jazeera has revealed that none of those rumors were true: Arafat was in good health until he suddenly fell ill on October 12, 2004.
More importantly, tests reveal that Arafat’s final personal belongings – his clothes, his toothbrush, even his iconic kaffiyeh – contained abnormal levels of polonium, a rare, highly radioactive element. Those personal effects, which were analyzed at the Institut de Radiophysique in Lausanne, Switzerland, were variously stained with Arafat’s blood, sweat, saliva and urine. The tests carried out on those samples suggested that there was a high level of polonium inside his body when he died.
“I can confirm to you that we measured an unexplained, elevated amount of unsupported polonium-210 in the belongings of Mr. Arafat that contained stains of biological fluids,” said Dr. Francois Bochud, the director of the institute.
The institute studied Arafat’s personal effects, which his widow provided to Al Jazeera, the first time they had been examined by a laboratory. Doctors did not find any traces of common heavy metals or conventional poisons, so they turned their attention to more obscure elements, including polonium.
It is a highly radioactive element used, among other things, to power spacecraft. Marie Curie discovered it in 1898, and her daughter Irene was among the first people it killed: She died of leukemia several years after an accidental polonium exposure in her laboratory.
At least two people connected with Israel’s nuclear program also reportedly died after exposure to the element, according to the limited literature on the subject.
But polonium’s most famous victim was Alexander Litvinenko, the Russian spy-turned-dissident who died in London in 2006 after a lingering illness. A British inquiry found that he was poisoned with polonium slipped into his tea at a sushi restaurant.
There is little scientific consensus about the symptoms of polonium poisoning, mostly because there are so few recorded cases. Litvinenko suffered severe diarrhea, weight loss, and vomiting, all of which were symptoms Arafat exhibited in the days and weeks after he initially fell ill.
Animal studies have found similar symptoms, which lingered for weeks - depending on the dosage – until the subject died. “The primary radiation target… is the gastrointestinal tract,” said an American study conducted in 1991, “activating the ‘vomiting centre’ in the brainstem.”
Scientists in Lausanne found elevated levels of the element on Arafat’s belongings - in some cases, they were ten times higher than those on control subjects, random samples which were tested for comparison.
The lab’s results were reported in millibecquerels (mBq), a scientific unit used to measure radioactivity.
Polonium is present in the atmosphere, but the natural levels that accumulate on surfaces barely register, and the element disappears quickly. Polonium-210, the isotope found on Arafat's belongings, has a half-life of 138 days, meaning that half of the substance decays roughly every four-and-a-half months. “Even in case of a poisoning similar to the Litvinenko case, only traces of the order of a few [millibecquerels] were expected to be found in [the] year 2012,” the institute noted in its report to Al Jazeera.
But Arafat’s personal effects, particularly those with bodily fluids on them, registered much higher levels of the element. His toothbrushes had polonium levels of 54mBq; the urine stain on his underwear, 180mBq. (Another man’s pair of underwear, used as a control, measured just 6.7mBq.)
Further tests, conducted over a three-month period from March until June, concluded that most of that polonium – between 60 and 80 per cent, depending on the sample – was “unsupported,” meaning that it did not come from natural sources.
It was a crime’
Doctors in Lausanne, and elsewhere, also ruled out a range of other possible causes for Arafat’s death, based on his original medical file, which Ms. Arafat also provided to Al Jazeera. Their examination ruled out many of the other causes of death that have been rumored over the last eight years.
Q&A: Suha ArafatExplainer: What is polonium?
Shlomo Ben Ami
“There was not liver cirrhosis, apparently no traces of cancer, no leukemia,” said Dr. Patrice Mangin, the head of the Institute of Legal Medicine of Lausanne University. “Concerning HIV, AIDS – there was no sign, and the symptomology was not suggesting these things.”
Dr. Tawfik Shaaban, a Tunisian specialist in HIV and one of the doctors who examined Arafat in his Ramallah compound, confirmed that there were no signs of the disease.
Their conclusions, of course, were based on documentation rather than firsthand examination. Doctors in Lausanne had hoped to study the blood and urine samples taken from Arafat while he was at Percy Military Hospital in France. But when she requested access, the hospital told his widow that those samples had been destroyed.
“I was not satisfied with that answer,” Ms. Arafat said. “Usually a very important person, like Yasser, they would keep traces – maybe they don’t want to be involved in it?”
Several of the doctors who treated Arafat said that they were not allowed to discuss his case – even with Ms. Arafat’s permission – because it was considered a “military secret.” And most of his onetime doctors in Cairo and Tunis refused requests for interviews as well.
With those avenues of inquiry closed, Arafat’s body itself would be the last remaining source of conclusive evidence. Exhuming it would require approval from the Palestinian Authority; shipping bone samples outside of the West Bank would require permission from the Israeli government.
Whatever the outcome, Ms. Arafat said she hopes further tests would “remove a lot of doubt” about her husband’s still-mysterious death.
“We got into this very, very painful conclusion, but at least this removes this great burden on me, on my chest,” she said. “At least I’ve done something to explain to the Palestinian people, to the Arab and Muslim generation all over the world, that it was not a natural death, it was a crime.”
A conclusive finding that Arafat was poisoned with polonium would not, of course, explain who killed him. It is a difficult element to produce, though – it requires a nuclear reactor – and the signature of the polonium in Arafat’s bones could provide some insight about its origin.
Below is an article by veteran Israeli anti-Zionist, Moshe Machover, from his book Israelis and Palestinians -Conflict and Resolution
Moshe MachoverWhat is [Ariel] Sharon trying to achieve by the massive devastation of the Occupied Territories, the widespread humiliation of the Palestinian population, and the brutal bloodshed? Surely, as antiterrorist strategy this is patently counterproductive: it can only engender hundreds of new suicidal would-be martyrs, who—reversing Samson’s last words—will pray to their merciful and compassionate god: “Let me die with the Jews, and take with me as many of them as you please.” Any fool can see this; and Sharon is certainly no fool.
Another, apparently unconnected, curious fact: a few weeks ago Sharon called Yasser Arafat “irrelevant.” What did he mean? As a term of abuse, “irrelevant” would be rather weak, certainly by Israeli standards; and Sharon is anything but weak. It could of course be interpreted as a subtle insult; but Sharon is not a subtle man - cunning, yes, but this is quite a different matter.
No, Sharon’s description of Arafat was in fact chillingly literal. It can best be understood as addressed not to Arafat himself or to the outside world but in the context of an internal discourse within the Israeli leadership. In order to decode Sharon’s deeds and words, we have to go back to the early 1990s. The first intifada, which erupted in late 1987 and went on for several years, had by 1991 taught the Israeli leadership that Israel could not long continue its direct rule over the Palestinians:
keeping “order” in the Occupied Territories was just too costly—not only in economic terms but also in its adverse effects on Israel’s army and society. Shimon Peres concluded that a way must be found to get the Palestinians to police themselves. This of course meant giving them some degree of autonomy. It also required a willing Palestinian partner, who would be ready to lead an autonomous Palestinian Authority—on Israeli terms. These terms include bearing sole responsibility for preventing any attack on Israeli soldiers, settlers, or civilians—and taking full blame for any attacks that do occur.
As it happened, such a partner was found in the apparently unlikely shape of Yasser Arafat, who was desperate for a deal at almost any price. His feeble bargaining position was of his own making. By foolishly siding with Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War (instead of taking the morally justified and politically astute position of “a plague a’ both your houses”), Arafat cut the financial branch on which he had been sitting so comfortably. Until the Gulf War, he had maintained his control of the PLO and manipulation of its personnel by means of ample funds flowing from Saudi Arabia
and the Gulf States, both as direct government subventions and as taxes he was allowed to levy on the large Palestinian refugee community profitably employed there. Suddenly the funds were cut off, and Arafat was left bereft of his means of control.
No wonder he was ready to accept Israel’s terms at Oslo, without—so insiders report—even bothering to read the small print. For Peres’s plan, which he eventually managed to sell to an initially reluctant Rabin, this was a very “relevant” Arafat. In fact, he was vital.
But other Israeli leaders—some in the Labor Party, but most in the Likud and its far-right allies—drew a different lesson from the first intifada. Yes, Israel cannot indefinitely subdue an oppressed Palestinian population. But allowing the Palestinians to do it on a DIY basis was too risky: it may start as a bantustan, but who knows where it might lead, given time? After all, had not Zionist colonization of Palestine also started from modest beginnings, under foreign control? The only alternative is to complete the ethnic cleansing—or, to use the Israeli term: “transfer”—that had been massively begun during the 1948 war and in its immediate aftermath, and attempted again, with much less success, in the wake of the 1967 war.
For this transfer plan, now supported by 46 percent of Israel’s Jewish citizens and openly advocated by several of Sharon’s ministers, Arafat is indeed highly irrelevant. If the Palestinians are to be stampeded across the Jordan, even his feeble and corrupt leadership is merely an obstacle. For a stampede, you don’t need any leader; what you do need is to terrorize the Palestinians into becoming a frightened herd. If some become frenzied suicide bombers, this is a price worth paying for the greater national good.
This is what Sharon is attempting to do. His plan is not new: it long predates Oslo. It is part of a breathtakingly grandiose plan to rearrange the whole Middle East under Israeli hegemony, with client Arab states in all parts of the region, including a Palestinian bantustan—not in Cisjordanian Palestine [west of the Jordan], but across the river, in what is now Hashemite Jordan. It was this plan he was trying to implement in 1982, when he deceived the Begin cabinet into supporting his Lebanese adventure.* Nor is Sharon’s Grand Plan a deeply held secret: at the time of the Lebanese war it was openly and widely discussed in the Israeli press.
That time it failed. But Ariel “the Bulldozer” Sharon is nothing if not dogged. He will try it again; he is trying it again. Yes, he will promise the Americans that he would behave; he will agree to cease fire; he will consent to negotiate. But he will break any promise, violate any agreement, and torpedo any talks—if they stand in the way of his plan.
An excellent opportunity will arise if and when Bush II starts another largescale “antiterrorist” war on Iraq.*
And after that? The next item in the grand plan is Iran, which is the only serious potential obstacle to Israeli regional hegemony.
Will Sharon’s grand plan succeed? Will he be able to implement even its first stage, the “transfer” of the Palestinians? He may well do, if the world lets him.
* The predicted war broke out almost exactly one year after this article was written. However, its conventional phase, ending with George W. Bush’s declaration of “victory,” was too brief to serve as smoke screen under which massive “transfer” could be implemented.
† Arafat died on November 11, 2004, at the age of seventy-five, following a mysterious illness. e
cause of death was never conclusively determined, but there are strong rumors that he was poisoned by the Mossad, Israel’s national intelligence and special operations agency. Sharon was then still in office as prime minister.
Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff tried to decipher the convoluted report into the former Palestinian leader's death themselves a few years ago, but to no avail.
Report: Arafat was poisoned by radioactive substanceBy Haaretz | Jul.04,2012 |
The final days of Yasser Arafat
Palestinian Authority agrees to exhume Arafat's body over new poison claimsBy Reuters | Jul.04,2012 | 11:45 AM
The Al-Jazeera investigation heavily indicating that Yasser Arafat, the former chairman of the Palestinian Authority and Palestine Liberation Organization, was poisoned by a radioactive substance is nothing less than impressive.
This was an "old-fashioned" journalistic investigation – not another tweet on Twitter, or a blog by two important journalists writing about the Middle East, but a team of reporters managing to get hold of classified documents, Arafat's personal effects, access to everything connected to the matter, and trying to turn over every stone to get to the truth.
No small number of the people with whom we spoke about the matter last night negated the report and claimed "Arafat died of AIDS", even though there's not a grain of proof backing that.
But with Al-Jazeera, we have now real evidence leading to a sensational conclusion, and we must admit, in this case, it makes us more than just a little bit jealous.
While conducting research in 2005 for the second edition of our book "The Seventh War" (about the First Intifada), we got hold of the unabridged secret report on the death of the Palestinian president, compiled at Percy Hospital, in Paris where Arafat had been treated.
We held on to that report for the next few months and tried to decipher it, but it wasn't easy. First of all, the report was written in French, a language which is not out forte. Second of all, even after we brought the report to a translator, he told us that it was written in medical language, and in other words, we would need to find a French-Hebrew/English-speaking doctor.
After we found that, we started to crack the report. This was a hundred-page document full of contradictions and questions.
For instance, the report mentions that samples of Arafat's blood taken while he was still in Ramallah and sent to a lab in Tunis had disappeared. We're not talking about blood samples from some John Smith or Moishe Moishe, but Yasser Arafat – and they just disappeared.
Another example: Yasser Arafat's personal doctor, Ashraf Al-Kourdi, who was only sent over to Arafat on October 27 (two weeks and a day after the Palestinian leader fell ill) told us then, as we were conducting our research, that he knew that the AIDS virus had been found in Arafat's blood during tests at Percy. The report doesn’t mention this. But the report also does not mention a single word about Arafat being tested for AIDS, even though he had some of the symptoms common in AIDS patients. Al-Karoudi claimed at the time that it was Israel's Mossad that infected Arafat's blood with the virus.
The report also explicitly pointed out that Arafat's wife Suha, who gave an emotional interview to Al-Jazeera on Tuesday, refused to let the doctors conduct a liver biopsy in his final days. It's not clear why.
Every senior Palestinian official interviewed in the investigation claimed that Israel poisoned Arafat. This claim requires special examination, of course, because of the political implications. Nevertheless, everyone we spoke to on the Israeli side has vehemently denied the accusations. Not with a smile, nor even with half of a smile. Everybody, without exception, claimed that this was complete nonsense.
With all these accusations, we must remember that in November 2004, there was no Israeli interest in killing Arafat. Abu Amar (Arafat), by the way, was isolated, weak, and in many ways, irrelevant. In addition, a former Israeli official emphasized that the Israeli government had promised the American administration not to turn him into a shaheed (martyr).
Toxicity tests conducted on Arafat in Paris brought up nothing. The report itself shows the results of blood tests taken from Etienne Louvet, sent to the toxicity lab of the Paris Police and the military hospital. Etienne Louvet was the code name that the doctors used whenever they send Arafat's blood tests, in order to keep the results of the tests secret.
The report mentions the names of the different poisons they tried to pinpoint (in order to find poison, it's necessary to look for it specifically) – but Polonium 210, the poison discovered in the Al-Jazeera investigation, wasn't on the list at the French lab.
Nevertheless, Arafat's relatives and associates claimed over and over again that he was poisoned, and that Israel had not hidden its intention of getting to him. And again – until today, eight years after his death – we had not succeeded in finding any evidence to back up that claim.
And then along comes the Al-Jazeera investigation presenting new evidence that the Polonium 210 poison was indeed found on Arafat's personal belongings from his last days alive.
Even the Swiss investigators admitted that in order to get to the incisive truth that Arafat died of radioactive poisoning, it would be necessary to carry outs tests on his body or on the earth covering him (Arafat is buried in Ramallah).
Suha Arafat has already demanded that the Palestinian Authority dig up the body - and the PA agreed on Wednesday to the request.