DHAKA: Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat said that the the PA intends to press for a joint international-Arab League committee to investigate the death of former PLO chairman Yasser Arafat.
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.
`The truth about the martyrdom of Arafat must be revealed, as well as the tools used to kill him,` Erekat told the Palestinian Ma`an news agency, says The Jerusalem Post.
`The perpetrators must be put to justice.`
Erekat`s comments came just days after PA President Mahmoud Abbas met with French President François Hollande in Paris over the issue.
Following the meeting on Friday, Abbas hinted that the PA would be interested in opening an investigation into the former Palestinian leader`s death.
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, said the onus was on the Palestinians.
BDST: 0302 HRS, JUL 9, 2012
Edited by Robab Rosan, Cultural Affairs Editor
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