Fatah official says Israel poisoned Arafat

‘There is not one Palestinian leader’ Israel didn’t kill, says PA security adviser, who vows to bring the perpetrators to justice

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Tawfik Tirawi at a press conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Friday, November 8, 2013. (AP/Majdi Mohammed)
Tawfik Tirawi at a press conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Friday, November 8, 2013. (AP/Majdi Mohammed)

While the Palestinian Authority leadership has refrained from directly accusing Israel of the alleged poisoning of Yasser Arafat, the head of a Palestinian committee appointed to investigate the former PA president’s death said that evidence is being collected to bring Israeli leaders to justice before an international court.

Speaking to official Palestinian television on Sunday, Fatah official Tawfik Tirawi, a retired general who served as chief of Palestinian General Intelligence in the West Bank and currently advises PA President Mahmoud Abbas on security affairs, said that Israel could no longer claim innocence.

“How can it deny this? There is not one Palestinian leader that Israel didn’t kill. It killed leaders from all the Palestinian factions, and admits to it 10 or 20 years later. In 20 years they’ll admit to [killing] Arafat,” Tirawi said.

“But we need to bring the Israeli leadership before an international court [earlier than that], using evidence,” he said.

Monday marked the ninth anniversary of Arafat’s death in a French hospital. Last year, the PA ordered the Palestinian leader’s remains exhumed and sent to laboratories in Russia, France and Switzerland for tests to examine whether he was poisoned. The Swiss team, whose results were published last week, found higher-than-normal levels of the radioactive substance polonium in Arafat’s bones, but could not ascertain that he died of poisoning. The Russian results, published the following day, said the findings were “inconclusive.”

Israel has ridiculed the notion that it had anything to do with Arafat’s death.

But Tirawi said that circumstantial evidence collected by his committee left no room for doubt that Israel was behind Arafat’s death. Statements made by Israeli officials in then prime minister Ariel Sharon’s cabinet, calling for Arafat’s “removal,” fill 70 pages of his committee’s report.

“The crime has three pillars: the first is the perpetrator, which is Israel. The second is the method, which is poisoning. The third pillar is the means of delivering the poison, which we will get to, God willing,” Tirawi said. “Whether the tool was an Arab, a foreigner or a Palestinian makes no difference. When the investigation is completed, Israel will not be able to deny it.”

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