Yasser Arafat
Yasser Arafat AFP/File

The Yasser Arafat Foundation said on Sunday there was "no need" for more proof that the former Palestinian Authority leader was poisoned.

The statement appeared to be a stance against French plans to exhume Arafat’s body.

“Since the formation of this Foundation, it has forcefully held on to the fact that Yasser Arafat died abnormally after being killed by a poison which was unidentified at the time,” the Foundation said in a statement quoted by AFP.

“The Foundation does not see a need here for more proof,” added the statement, which came just days after a delegation of French magistrates said they would travel to Ramallah to investigate claims that Arafat may have succumbed to poisoning by the radioactive substance polonium.

No date has been given for the trip, which would involve forensic officers exhuming the body and taking samples for laboratory testing in an investigation sought by Arafat's widow. Suha.

Speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, a source from the Foundation said they would only agree to a further examination of his body if it was conducted as part of an international investigation committee.

“If there is an international committee, we will agree to the body being checked,” he said, without explaining further.

French prosecutors opened a murder inquiry into Arafat's death after Al-Jazeera broadcast an investigation in which Swiss experts said they found high levels of radioactive polonium on his personal effects.

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Suha Arafat both gave their consent for samples to be taken from Arafat’s remains.

Medical files recently released for the first time portray Arafat as a robust 75-year-old whose sudden health crisis, a month before his 2004 death, was initially blamed on viral gastroenteritis.

An Israeli specialist, Dr. Joseph Zimmerman, who reviewed the medical file, said Arafat's early symptoms were not consistent with viral gastroenteritis, but also said poisoning seemed unlikely, even by a radioactive agent such as polonium-210.

Zimmerman pointed out that Arafat's platelet counts dropped suddenly and stayed low and that he eventually exhibited signs of liver dysfunction.

“This is not typical of poisoning,” he said, adding that a bacterial infection could have caused these symptoms.