Hamas has called on Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to end talks with Israel, due to its claims that President Shimon Peres "admitted" that the Israeli government was responsible for the "murder" of former PA Chairman Yasser Arafat.
Fahmi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, wrote on his Facebook page on Sunday that Abbas must immediately cease all negotiations with the "Israeli occupation". He also demanded that a lawsuit be filed against Israel with the International Criminal Court for "killing Arafat" and that the rest of the Israeli "crimes" be exposed.
Hamas is basing its claims on comments made by Peres during an interview with the New York Times last week. Peres was asked "You didn’t think that Arafat should be assassinated", to which he responded:
"No. I thought it was possible to do business with him. Without him, it was much more complicated. With who else could we have closed the Oslo deal? With who else could we have reached the Hevron agreement? On the other hand, I tried to explain to him, for hours on end, a complete educational course: how to be a true leader. We sat together, with me eating from his hand. It took courage. I told him he must be like Lincoln, like Ben-Gurion: one nation, one gun, not innumerable armed forces with each firing in a different direction. At first, Arafat refused, he said, 'La, la, la', but later he said, “O.K.” He lied right to my face, without any problem."
However, it is not at all clear that Peres is "admitting" that Israel killed Arafat in the comments. His comments may imply that Israel contemplated assassinating Arafat before the Oslo Accords which were signed in the 1990s, whereas Arafat did not die until 2004, though that is also unclear.
France opened a murder enquiry into Arafat’s death several months ago, after his family launched legal action following reports he may have died from radioactive polonium near Paris in 2004. This was suggested in an Al-Jazeera news investigation in which Swiss experts said they found high levels of radioactive polonium on his personal effects.
Last month, around 60 samples were taken from Arafat's remains for the probe into whether he was poisoned by polonium.
PA leaders have threatened to petition the International Criminal Court in The Hague if the investigation finds proof that Arafat was poisoned.
On Sunday, Saeb Erekat, the head of the PLO’s negotiations department, once again blamed Israel for killing Arafat.
In an interview with Army Radio, Erekat again made conspiratorial accusations in regards to the death of Arafat, saying he was sure the former PLO Chairman did not die naturally but was killed, all the while implying that Israel was behind it.