PA: If Arafat was Poisoned, We’ll Go to Hague

PA leaders say they'll petition International Court if their investigation shows Arafat was poisoned.

Maayana Miskin ,

Fayyad with picture of Arafat
Fayyad with picture of Arafat
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Palestinian Authority leaders will petition the International Criminal Court in The Hague if an investigation finds proof that the late PLO head Yasser Arafat was poisoned, an official said Tuesday, speaking to the AFP news agency.

"If it is proved that Arafat was poisoned, we will go to the international court," said Tawfiq Tirawi, head of the PA commission investigating Arafat's death, referring to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

His remarks were made at a press conference which took place several hours after Arafat's remains were exhumed for testing by a team of international experts.

"We will wait for the results of the investigation," he said. "We are not accusing anyone so far but regardless of the result, we will continue looking for the truth" about how he died.”

Arafat died at a French military hospital near Paris in November 2004 at the age of 75, with experts unable to say what killed him. Many Arabs believe he was poisoned by Israel.

Some Israelis have expressed concern that the PA investigation points to a plan to frame Israel for Arafat’s death.
Experts on Tuesday took samples from Arafat’s remains to examine them for traces of polonium. An investigation earlier this year by Al Jazeera television found abnormal quantities of the radioactive substance on personal effects provided by widow Suha Arafat.

The results are not expected to be made public for several months.

The ICC can only open an investigation if it is asked to do so by the UN Security Council or by a recognized state.    Although the PA does not have full UN membership, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas will on Thursday present a formal request for upgraded status, which would raise its rank from that of an observer entity to an observer state.

Such a move would allow the PA to join many UN organizations or international treaties, such as the ICC or the Fourth Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians.

The resolution is expected to easily pass in the 193-nation General Assembly after which the PA would have to apply to become party to the Rome Statute, and only then would it be permitted to petition the ICC.

"This would be the first case for Palestine after getting international recognition as a (UN) non-member state," Tirawi said.