A video aired on Palestinian Authority television several times per day over the past few days accused Israel of poisoning former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Arafat died at the age of 75 on November 11, 2004, at a French military hospital near Paris. The cause of death is still undetermined.
In the clip, showing images of Arafat from the signing of the Oslo Accords with Israel, a narrator says: “The scheme. Israel and its allies found Arafat to be an insurmountable obstacle to their occupation aspirations and plans, and therefore they [laid] the siege and [committed] the murder by poison…”
According to a translation posted Friday by the Palestinian Media Watch group, the narrator continues: “The knight [Arafat] got off his horse, and on the back of the revolution rose another man: [Palestinian Authority President] Mahmoud Abbas. He tried again, out of a belief in a just peace, but the same cover of injustice remained… The leader understood how matters are conducted, and began an international legal battle in order to internationalize the [Palestinian] cause. He tore off the cover of injustice, while screaming out the Palestinian right. [He made] achievements one after another, in a critical international battle while adhering to the principles.”
Also in the clip, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman is shown alongside a quote reading: “We must get rid of the PA and it is essential that Abbas go away.”
Later, a caption on the screen reads: “Wikileaks: [Israeli Prime Minister] Netanyahu wants to get rid of Abbas.”
The narrator is then heard saying: “The plot is renewed and history repeats itself. The Palestinian president is again under attack. On the 12th anniversary of the death as a Martyr of late President Yasser Arafat – the commitment remains, the oath remains, and this is a revolution until victory.”
Abbas said Thursday he knew who killed Arafat, during a ceremony marking the 12th anniversary of the former leader’s death, but stopped short of naming names.
Speaking to a crowd of thousands in Ramallah, Abbas said, “You ask me who killed him, I know — but my testimony alone is not enough.”
“A commission of inquiry is digging into that, but you’ll find out at the earliest opportunity and be amazed when you know who did it,” he said.
“I do not want to mention names, because these names do not deserve to be remembered,” he added.
More than a decade after his death, Arafat remains a towering figure in Palestinian culture, politics and society, but is seen by many in Israel as an unreformed terrorist who doomed the 2000 Camp David attempt at peacemaking, orchestrated the suicide bombing onslaught of the Second Intifada that followed, and disseminated a still-prevailing narrative among Palestinians that denies Jews’ history and legitimacy in the Holy Land.
Arafat’s body was exhumed in 2012 for tests but a subsequent French investigation found no proof of poisoning.
The Palestinians rejected that report, citing apparent inconsistencies between the French findings and separate ones from Switzerland and Russia that gave currency to alleged poisoning by polonium.
Abbas and his longtime rival Mohammad Dahlan have both accused each other of complicity in Arafat’s death in the past.
Abbas’s comments came amid some Arab countries reportedly pressuring the 81-year-old to allow Dahlan, who has been in exile in the United Arab Emirates, to return to the West Bank.
Sources in Abbas’s Fatah movement said Arafat’s death could be discussed at the party’s seventh annual conference, with the commission of inquiry potentially announcing its conclusions.
The conference will be held on November 29.
On Wednesday, the Yasser Arafat Museum opened in Ramallah, shedding light on the long-time Palestinian leader’s life and offering a glimpse of history — along with a number of his trademark black-and-white keffiyehs.