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.

 

Yemen rebels warn Saleh will bear consequences

Iraqi forces advance against IS in Tal Afar

US, Gulf officials hold talks on Mideast peace

Taliban warns Afghanistan will become 'graveyard' for US

Stranded migrants feel unwelcome in hostile Bulgaria

Former Libyan PM freed after nine-day kidnapping

Palestinians demand two-state pledge from Trump

What is behind the Syrian regime’s push south-west of Raqqa?

Egypt puts hope in leather exports

Saudi Arabia, Iran to exchange diplomatic visits

IAEA chief briefs US's Haley on Iran deal

11 killed in attack on Libya checkpoint

Turkey says German FM copying ‘racists, far right’

French satire magazine publishes provocative Islam cartoon

Air raid on Yemen capital kills dozens of civilians

After Barcelona, ISIS-inspired threats in Europe continue

Netanyahu tells Putin that Iran’s growing Syria role is threat to Israel

Israel to strip accused Muslims of citizenship

Cairo warns against US decision to withhold aid

Iranian opposition leaders ‘protected’ by house arrest

Turkish FM to tell Iraqi Kurds to cancel independence vote

Qatar approves law for protecting domestic workers

Pentagon chief arrives in Turkey for talks on Syria, Kurds

Two arrested in Morocco over suspected links to Barcelona attackers

Iraqi forces retake three districts of IS-held Tal Afar

Lebanon army says in final stage of IS border battle

Spanish town Ripoll reels from discovery of it’s young jihadists

Jordan opens first job centre in Syrian refugee camp

Outrage in Morocco over sexual assault video

Former Libyan premiere Ali Zeidan still held by kidnappers

Syria opposition talks in Riyadh end with no breakthrough

Erdogan vows to prevent Kurdish ‘terror corridor’ in Syria

Iraqi troops recapture first two districts from IS bastion

UN says thousands fleeing Tel Afar amid anti-IS offensive

Second round of Kurdish referendum talks could happen next week

Dozens killed in coalition strikes as US-backed forces advance in Raqa

Iran back to high enrichment 'in 5 days' if US quits nuclear deal

Two North Korean shipments to Syrian chemical weapons program intercepted

German foreign minister says Erdogan backers threatened his wife

Turkey arrests former national goalkeeper for ‘coup links’

Iran in negotiations to unblock Twitter

Yemeni FM says Iran 'part of the problem' in Yemen

On the trail of Spain's attackers

Mattis in Baghdad to support Iraqi forces

UN urges Iraq to do more for IS sex abuse victims