Hamas: Israel poisoned Arafat

Arnon Regular and Roni Singer


Kislev 2, 5765

Hamas political leader Khaled Mashal yesterday accused Israel of poisoning Yasser Arafat. Although doctors ruled out poisoning this week, the cause of the Palestinian Authority chairman's death yesterday is still unknown.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Sha'ath told reporters Tuesday that the doctors' diagnosis "rules out poisoning totally." Sha'ath and other Palestinian leaders in the West Bank and Gaza have rejected the rumors as not credible.

But leaders of Palestinian groups residing abroad under Syrian protection, such as Mashal and Kaddoumi, who heads the Palestine Liberation Organization's political wing, are trying to recruit adherents to their theory that Israeli security officials killed Arafat.

"Israel poisoned Arafat and killed him by using its collaborators, and has thereby also eliminated the chance for negotiations," Mashal said. "Israel, by killing Arafat, has killed the peace settlement and is sending a clear message to Palestinians and Arabs that this will be the fate of whoever rejects a settlement according to Israeli conditions."

Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom dismissed the allegations as "scandalous and false." His comments were the first public statement by an Israeli official on rumors that have swirled through the Arab world since Arafat was hospitalized in France nearly two weeks ago.