Abbas to Ask Swiss Experts to Test Arafat's Body

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas will ask Swiss experts who probed Arafat's death to take samples from his body for further tests.

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Elad Benari,

Yasser Arafat
Yasser Arafat
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas will call on Swiss experts who probed Yasser Arafat's death to take samples from his body for further tests, AFP reported on Sunday.

The invitation comes after a report last week on Al-Jazeera which said that elevated levels of the radioactive substance polonium were found on some of Arafat's belongings, suggesting he could have been poisoned.

The PA’s chief negotiator, Saeb Erakat, told AFP that “Abbas ordered one of his medical advisors to communicate immediately with the experts at the Swiss institute who tested Arafat's clothes and request they come immediately to Ramallah to take samples from Arafat's body.”

He added that Abbas hoped further tests by the experts "will reveal the real cause for Arafat's death."

The Al-Jazeera investigation centered on the testing of some of Arafat's belongings, which had been handed to his wife Suha by the Paris hospital where he died in 2004.

Among the experts consulted by the news channel were specialists at the Institute of Radiation Physics at Switzerland's University of Lausanne, which discovered the elevated levels of non-naturally occurring polonium. Suha Arafat called for an autopsy of her husband’s body following the findings.

Hamas’ de facto Prime Minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, accused the PA led by Abbas of negligence in dealing with the investigation of Arafat’s death, which he termed a “murder”.

On Friday, Lebanon's Al-Miadin television broadcast a copy of a video tape in which an Arab security prisoner from the Palestinian Authority claims he was recruited by Israel's security services to poison Arafat.

In the tape, and Arab prisoner says Israeli intelligence recruited him to assassinate Arafat for them.

However, Amir Rappaport of the Israel Defense website published an account of Arafat’s final days as told by Israeli officials. The account said that Israel allowed Arafat to be released from his Ramallah compound and be flown to France, where he received treatment for complications of leukemia.

While Arafat’s condition began to improve under French care, Israeli sources reported that French doctors then tried a dramatic procedure – a total blood transfusion, in which all of Arafat’s blood was replaced with donor blood. Arafat went into a coma during the procedure and never woke up. He died on November 2011, 2004, and was buried in Ramallah.