Abbas: We'll open new Arafat probe 'if necessary'

PA president makes the comments in France after meeting Hollande, with whom Abbas said he discussed Arafat death.

July 7, 2012 07:08
1 minute read.
Deceased PLO chairman Yasser Arafat

Yasser Arafat 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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The Palestinian Authority will open a new investigation into the death of former PLO chairman Yasser Arafat “if necessary,” PA President Mahmoud Abbas said on Friday.

Following a meeting with French President François Hollande in Paris, Abbas said the two men discussed reported developments in Arafat’s death, according to an AFP report. The PA wants to see if there are any new elements regarding the circumstances of Arafat’s death, Abbas said.

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Earlier in the week, the PA agreed to the exhumation of Yasser Arafat’s body after new allegations arose that he was poisoned with the radioactive element polonium-210 in 2004.

A Swiss institute that examined clothing provided by Arafat’s widow, Suha, as part of an Al Jazeera exposé said it found “surprisingly” high levels of polonium-210, though symptoms described in the late leader’s medical reports were not consistent with the radioactive agent.

The Palestinian administration said it would approve Suha Arafat’s request to bring Arafat’s remains up for autopsy from his limestone mausoleum in Ramallah.

The findings stirred up old Palestinian suspicions that Israel was behind the death of the 75-year-old it had shunned after peace talks collapsed into bloodshed in 2000.

Long ill, Arafat was airlifted to a military hospital in France where he died on November 11, 2004. French doctors who treated him in his final days said they could not establish the cause of death. French officials, citing privacy laws, refused to give details of the nature of his illness.


Polonium, apparently ingested with food, was found to have caused the slow death of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006.

Israel has denied involvement in Arafat’s death and the head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) at the time, Avi Dichter, on Wednesday said the onus was on the Palestinians.

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