Thursday, July 12, 2012

Palestinians pressured not to seek international probe into Arafat's death

Sign of the Times

The Palestinians' efforts to launch an international probe into the 2004 death of ex-leader Yasser Arafat face serious obstacles, a Palestinian official said Tuesday.

The obstacles stem from the opposition by some countries including the United States and France, the official said on condition of anonymity.

The United States has put pressure on the Palestinian leadership not to seek such an investigation because it can lead to some negative consequences on the Middle East peace process, which has been stalled since 2010, according to the official.

The amount of pressure mounted on the Palestinian leaders might foil their efforts to stage an international probe into Arafat's death, the official added.

The debate about ex-leader's death renewed last week after Arab satellite channel al-Jazeera aired an investigative report indicating that Arafat was poisoned with toxic radioactive polonium.

Arafat died three weeks after arriving at a French hospital near Paris in November 2004. No conclusive reason was given for his death. Before airlifted to France, Arafat had been ill for more than two years, confined by Israel in his West Bank headquarters.

On Monday, the Palestinian leadership asked Swiss scientists to come to the West Bank and take samples of Arafat's remains for additional tests.

The experts are from the Lausanne-based Institute of Radiation Physics, which al-Jazeera hired for testing Arafat's personal belongings.

Following al-Jazeera's report, the Palestinian leaders said they have no problem exhuming Arafat's body from his West Bank grave if his family requests more tests to be done on his remains.

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