First Published: 2012-11-11


Russia helps Palestinians probe Arafat’s enigmatic death


Palestinians are coordinating with Russia, as well as Swiss, French experts, on exhumation of late President Yasser Arafat.


Middle East Online

Biggest secret in history of Palestine

RAMALLAH (Palestinian Territories) - Palestinians are coordinating with Russia, as well as Swiss and French experts, on the exhumation of late President Yasser Arafat, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said Sunday.

Arafat died in a French military hospital near Paris on November 11, 2004 and French experts were unable to say what had killed him, with many Palestinians convinced he was poisoned by Israel.

"We are currently in coordination with the French investigators, the Swiss experts, and also the Russian government to open the tomb," Abbas said in a speech marking the eighth anniversary of Arafat's death.

His comments were the first time Palestinian officials have said that Russia is involved in the new investigation into Arafat's death.

"We hope for new facts that we can tell our people and the public," Abbas said, adding that the investigation was "bigger and more important" that the "media uproar" created by an Al-Jazeera inquiry into Arafat's death.

French prosecutors opened a murder inquiry in August after Al-Jazeera television broadcast an investigation in which Swiss experts said they had found high levels of radioactive polonium on Arafat's personal effects.

A French team is due to arrive in Ramallah on November 26 to begin work on exhuming the body, Palestinian sources said last month, adding that Swiss experts would arrive at the same time for an operation that could take "several weeks or a month."

Polonium is a highly toxic substance rarely found outside military and scientific circles.

It was used to kill former Russian spy turned Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko, who died in 2006 in London shortly after drinking tea laced with the poison.

The French murder inquiry was opened in late August at the request of Arafat's widow Suha, who had refused to give her permission for an autopsy at the time of his death.

This week, Nasser al-Qidwa, Arafat's nephew and the head of the Yasser Arafat Foundation, repeated his "opposition in principle" to an exhumation, "primarily because samples collected after eight years may not be clinically exploitable."

"Every Palestinian is convinced that Arafat was murdered," he said, "but even opening his tomb won't convince the sceptics of the truth."

The anniversary is being marked in the West Bank with a series of events, including candlelit vigils for the iconic leader.

In Gaza, local members of Arafat's Fatah movement said the ruling Hamas movement was preventing them for participating in ceremonies to mark the late president's death.


Iraq forces press Mosul assault

Clashes, air strikes end Aleppo ceasefire

UN call to extend Yemen truce falls on deaf ears

Turkey reports over 35,000 people in detention after coup attempt

In violation of constitution, Iraq parliament votes to ban alcohol

French FM annoys Turkey by contrasting states of emergency

UN planning for 150,000 displaced by Mosul battle

UAE jails Sudanese man for planning attacks on immigrants

Qatar in 3 days of mourning for former emir

16 civilians dead in bombardment of Syria's rebel-held Idlib

Civilians suffer in IS 'smoke war'

74 jihadists dead after IS assault on Kirkuk

Nearly 100 civilians dead in Turkey-backed Syria op

Kuwait says more work required to counter IS funding

Mosul refugees under IS fire at Syrian border

Morocco king calls for public administration reform

Israeli air force strikes Gaza

Russia not considering renewing Aleppo ceasefire

Israel minister: ‘we will completely destroy’ Gaza in next war

Mosul battle sees highest number of US air strikes yet

Palestinians free four held after visiting settlement during Sukkot

IS executes five Iraqis in western town

Baghdad denies Ankara taking part in Mosul operation

Iraq forces fight to tighten noose around Mosul

Turkey hits Kurdish group in Syria again

Kremlin aims to 'liberate' Syria with Assad in power

Egypt court upholds 20-year sentence for Morsi

Turkey PM warns EU: Turkey has alternatives!

Battles rage in Yemen despite three-day truce

For second day, Iraq forces clash with ISIS in Kirkuk

New report accuses Syria of chemical attack in Qmenas village

Islamic Jihad stages show of force in Gaza

UN says 'crimes' in Aleppo are 'of historic proportions'

IS sniper kills Iraqi journalist in Kirkuk

US official says coalition should target IS in Raqa after Mosul

Moscow extends Aleppo ceasefire

Italy PM says officials should have voted against UNESCO Jerusalem resolution

Syrian ‘Toy Smuggler’ accused of fraud

UN: IS may use civilians as human shields in Mosul

Armed men attack refugee boat off Libya

US says will work with Turkey to deal IS 'lasting defeat'

Moscow ‘highly concerned’ at jihadists’ refusal to leave Aleppo

Four Palestinians arrested by their security forces for settlement visit

Mauritania president says no change to two-term limit

UN delays Aleppo evacuations due to lack of security assurances