Russia joins probe into Arafat’s death, Palestinian president reveals
The current Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, announced on Sunday that Russia will join an international investigation to examine whether the first Palestinian President, Yasser Arafat, was murdered.
French and Swiss specialists are due to exhume Arafat’s body in Ramallah in order to learn how he died. This is happening after an Al Jazeera documentary in July claimed he was killed by an unusual radioactive poison.
“There’s full cooperation these days between us and the French investigators and Swiss experts, and also from the Russian government,” Abbas said, during the eighth anniversary of the former President’s death.
According to Palestinian sources, Abbas asked Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, for Moscow’s support during talks in Jordan last week. Questions over Arafat’s death have been raised ever since the former President’s passing.
The case returned to the mainstream news in July, after a Swiss organisation said it had found high levels of the radioactive element polonium-210 on Arafat’s clothing.
Three French forensic experts are likely to visit Arafat’s limestone mausoleum, in the West Bank capital of Ramallah, on 20th November, and investigating magistrates hope to visit four days later.
Palestinian official Wasel Abu Yousef, insisted that contact with the French is ongoing, but asked that the interrogation of any Palestinians must be done through the Abbas administration, “as a matter of sovereignty”.
The investigation will act as clarification, while West Bank leaders prepare for a UN General Assembly vote on Palestine becoming an “observer state” at the end of November.
Nasser al-Kidwa, Arafat’s nephew and a senior official in Abbas’s Fatah group, has said: “We say openly that our leader ‒ our founder ‒ was assassinated by Israel with poison. The overwhelming majority of the Palestinian people are convinced of this.”
“Some have spread about the repugnant idea that Arafat’s tomb should be opened up and desecrated. There is no justification for this. We know the real truth.”