Farouk al-Kaddoumi, a senior Palestine Liberation Organization leader, claims that Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas was directly involved in the murder of former PA chairman and terrorist leader Yasser Arafat. Fatah leaders in the PA said the charges were politically motivated lies.
Kaddoumi, the head of the PLO's political office and the formal chairman of Fatah, told a press conference on Monday that he had protocols from a 2004 meeting between Israeli, American and PA representatives that clearly indicate a plan to poison Arafat. According to Kaddoumi, it was not only Abbas who was involved from the PA side, but former Gaza strongman Muhammad Dahlan as well. Before the Hamas takeover of Gaza, Dahlan served as the head of the PA's secret police and preventative security forces in the Gaza region.
Arafat died in November 2004 after a brief but intense illness, during which he was transported to France for emergency treatment. The cause of his death was never made public, but speculation ranged from assassination to liver failure to AIDS.
Kaddoumi is a long-time rival of the PA leadership, as he was one of the only top Fatah-affiliated terror leaders who rejected Arafat's Oslo Accords with Israel. He refused to join the PLO leadership when it moved to the newly established PA territory in 1994 and remained in Tunisia, where the PLO was headquartered after Israel drove the terror organization out of Lebanon in 1982. Abbas has made sweeping efforts to neutralize Kaddoumi's power within Fatah and the PLO, although Kaddoumi formally retains his senior political offices.
"Kaddoumi's statements were false, full of contradictions and have no relation to reality," declared the Fatah terrorist organization in a communique issued Tuesday by its central committee. "In his statements, Kaddoumi is trying to create an absurd situation, one of vengeance within the Palestinian society, and his words are very dangerous."
The statement charged that Kaddoumi's objective in presenting his claims in a public forum was "to break up the sixth [Fatah] conference which is to be held in Bethlehem next month."
Kaddoumi objects to holding the conference in Bethlehem, preferring one of the Arab states. He may be seeking a forum where he will have greater influence than Abbas, such as Syria, where Kaddoumi is a frequent guest and referred to as the head of the "Palestinian movement". Additionally, holding the event under PA jurisdiction would entail his recognition of the Abbas regime, which he opposes.