Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday he knew who killed Yasser Arafat, as he marked the 12th anniversary of the former leader’s death, but stopped short of giving a name.
Speaking in front 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.
Arafat died on November 11, 2004, at a hospital near Paris from unknown causes at the age of 75.
More than a decade after his death, he 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.
The Palestinians have long accused Israel of poisoning him, a charge the Israeli government ridicules.
His 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 Mohammed Dahlan have both accused each other of complicity in Arafat’s death in the past.
Abbas’s comments came with 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.
Those moves come amid talk of who will succeed Abbas.
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.