Palestinian committee ready to examine Arafat’s body

PA official calls for international investigation into cause of death but Abbas reportedly wants more information before deciding on exhumation

Aaron Kalman is a former writer and breaking news editor for the Times of Israel

Tawfiq Tirawi. (Screen capture: ScreenNews/YouTube)
Tawfiq Tirawi. (Screen capture: ScreenNews/YouTube)

The Palestinian committee that investigated the death of Yasser Arafat is prepared to test samples from his body in order to determine whether he was poisoned by a deadly dose of radioactive polonium, an official told the Palestinian news agency Maan on Thursday, while others called for an international investigation into the incident.

Tawfiq Tirawi said the committee was waiting for the approval of Arafat’s family before taking samples to the lab for testing.

However, Nimr Hamad, an aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said later Thursday the Palestinian leader wants to send experts to Europe to learn more from the Swiss lab and to the French military hospital where Arafat died before deciding whether to dig up his body..

Arafat’s wife Suha called for an autopsy Tuesday following findings by a Swiss institute that indicated there were high levels of polonium-210 found in the late leader’s clothing. The tests were carried out as part of an Al-Jazeera documentary that was aired Tuesday.

Tirawi told Ma’an his committee had previously had its doubts about Arafat’s death, saying there where “inconsistencies” regarding the cause of death.

According to the article, if the autopsy confirms the Palestinian leader was murdered then an investigation to find those responsible would take place. Tirawi warned that such a project would take time. All factions of the Palestinian society are willing to cooperate in such an investigation, he said.

Officials in Tunis joined the Palestinian Authority’s Foreign Minister Riad Maliki’s calls to start an international investigation. According to AFP, Maliki said the group in charge of the investigation should be given a mandate similar to the one used when investigating the death of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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