DOHA - A top Hamas political leader, Khaled Meshaal, accused Israel Thursday of having poisoned veteran Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who died in a French hospital aged 75.
"I accuse Israel of having poisoned the blood of Abu Ammar," Meshaal told Arab television network Al-Jazeera, using Arafat's nom-de-guerre. He claimed doctors at the military hospital near Paris had been unable to detect the toxin.
Meshaal himself was the target of an assassination bid by Israeli agents in Amman in September 1997.
"Seven years ago, when I was the victim of a similar poisoning operation, the doctors were unable to find any proof in my blood. But at the time, Israel was forced to hand over the remedy because we were holding two Mossad agents," he said.
"Israel killed Yasser Arafat... By killing Arafat today, Israel has killed the peace process. It has killed he who created with it this process," he said.
"This is perhaps a message to the Palestinians and Arabs to tell them that this will be the fate of he who refuses a solution under Israeli conditions, he who refuses defeat," Meshaal said.
He called on Arafat's Fatah party to strengthen their unity in the face of his death.
On Tuesday, Palestinian foreign minister Nabil Shaath affirmed that the 75-year-old leader had not been poisoned but rumours abound over what exactly he died of.