As Syria’s opposition mulls the possibility of participating in an international conference on a political solution to the crisis, and Iran negotiates its nuclear program in Geneva, the Arab media focused this week on the alleged poisoning of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and its repercussions.
Suha Arafat, the wife of the deceased leader and the woman who initiated the investigation into her husband’s death, told the Saudi-owned newspaper A-Sharq Al-Awsat on Friday that, while she was “not blaming anyone,” Arafat’s death was “a political crime of the first degree.”
In his final days, Arafat himself sensed that he had been the victim of a crime, Suha told the Saudi newspaper in a telephone call from London.
“Abu Amar [Arafat’s nom de guerre] told me: ‘My situation isn’t normal and you must find out what inflicts me. These are not the symptoms of a normal disease.’ ”
Meanwhile, veteran Israeli Peace Now activist Uri Avnery tells Qatari news channel Al-Jazeera he was convinced that Israel had poisoned Arafat — even before the results of the Swiss report emerged.
“[Former Israeli prime minister] Ariel Sharon did not hide his wish and intention to get rid of the deceased Palestinian president,” Avnery told the channel, which displays a photo of Avnery smiling next to Arafat with the caption “Uri Avnery was a close friend of Yasser Arafat’s.”
The Palestinian-oriented, London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi wonders in its editorial Friday why the French doctors who treated Arafat in the hospital did not publish their suspicion of poisoning. There must have been a conspiracy to hide the truth, concludes the daily.
“The question asked today… is why was this result not revealed earlier, following Arafat’s passing in the French hospital. The French doctors — who merely indicated that the cause of death was intestinal inflammation and serious blood-clotting problems — must have suspected [poisoning], especially since there was suspicion of an assassination. The French team at the time must have had evidence of this, which France — probably in collusion with the American and Israeli administrations — sought to hide for political reasons.”
The Swiss forensic results lead the top headlines of both official Palestinian dailies on Friday: Al-Ayyam features a photo of the head of the Palestinian investigation team holding up the Swiss report; and Al-Hayat Al-Jadidah gives prominence to a photo of two policemen in official dress uniforms standing guard next to Arafat’s tomb.
“Israel is a murderous country par excellence,” reads the headline of an op-ed by Rajab Abu Sariyah in Al-Ayyam, blasting a claim by Israeli Foreign Ministry Spokesman Yigal Palmor that Arafat died after having led an unhealthy lifestyle.
“First and foremost, Israel is the one who imposed an unhealthy situation on the deceased by placing him under house arrest at the Muqata’a and not taking his health condition into account. But more important is Israel’s dismissal of the results of the medical report,” writes Abu Sariyah.
“It is, of course, not surprising that Israel assassinates a Palestinian — officially and as a state — even if he is the No. 1 Palestinian. Israel’s hands are regularly soiled with the blood of Palestinians. It has perpetrated dozens, if not hundreds, of massacres against Palestinians over seven decades.”