Future Palestinian state to try Israel at ICC for Arafat killing, official says

Head of panel probing leader’s death says ‘those whose policy is assassinations’ will be brought to justice

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

The Ramallah mausoleum where former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is buried (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)
The Ramallah mausoleum where former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is buried (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

With the Palestinian Authority on the cusp of submitting its request for nonmember status to the United Nations General Assembly, one Palestinian official on Tuesday said the future state’s first move in the international arena will be trying Israel in court for Yasser Arafat’s death.

The Palestinian Authority exhumed Arafat’s remains on Tuesday, just over eight years after he died from an unidentified illness, in order to determine the cause of his death. Al Jazeera published a report earlier this year positing a Swiss university team had discovered traces of radioactive polonium on Arafat’s effects, prompting Palestinian leaders to unearth his remains and learn whether Arafat was assassinated by poisoning.

Tawfiq Tirawi, the head of the Palestinian investigation committee responsible for conducting Arafat’s autopsy, said the Palestinians would take Israel to task for his assassination at the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

“We need proof in order to find those who are behind this assassination and take it to the ICC,” Tirawi told Reuters.

“When we have proof, we will go to the ICC for it to be our first case to try those whose policy is assassinations,” he said, alluding to Israel’s decades-old policy of target killings against Palestinian terrorist leaders.

Results from autopsying Arafat’s remains will not be conclusively determined until Spring 2013, according to Dr. Abdullah al Bashir, the head of the Palestinian medical committee.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas will ask the Assembly to vote on recognition of Palestine as a nonmember state on Thursday, November 29 — 65 years after the original UN vote on partitioning British Mandate Palestine into Jewish and Arab states.

Although a Palestinian state would not have a vote in the General Assembly, it could gain membership of the International Court of Justice or the International Criminal Court, and potentially take action against Israel at those bodies.

A leading French doctor who teaches at the Paris hospital where Arafat died recently told The Times of Israel, based on Arafat’s medical report, that there is “absolutely no way” the Palestinian leader was poisoned.

Dr. Roland Masse, a member of the prestigious Académie de Médecine who currently teaches radiopathology at Percy Military Training Hospital in the Paris suburb of Clamart, said the symptoms of polonium poisoning would have been “impossible to miss,” noted that Percy had tested Arafat for radiation poisoning, and revealed that the hospital specializes in the related field of radiation detection. “A lethal level of polonium simply cannot go unnoticed,” he said.

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed