Yasser Arafat's nephew refuses to rule out poisoning

By Arnon Regular and Roni Singer


Kislev 9, 5765

Yasser Arafat's nephew refused Monday to rule out poisoning as cause of the Palestinian leader's death, even though tests had shown no trace of any known poison.

Asked if he could assure Palestinians that Arafat was not killed by poison, Nasser al-Kidwa said: "No, I cannot assure you."

"Toxicology tests were made, and no poison known to the
doctors was detected," said al-Kidwa.

"We don't have proof that suggests there was poisoning. We don't have proof that there wasn't, in a definitive way," al-Kidwa said.

He said that Arafat's medical file does not give a definite cause for Arafat's death on November 11 in a Paris military hospital.

"There is no clear diagnosis of the reason" for Arafat's death, he told a news conference.

"In all cases, I believe that the Israeli authority is largely responsible for what happened, at least because of the confinement of the late president to [his headquarters] in very bad conditions for three years."

But when Arafat was in hospital in Paris before his death, Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Sha?ath told reporters that although the doctors' diagnosis had been inconclusive, "it rules out poisoning totally."

Al-Kidwa, who is the Palestinian observer to the United Nations, spoke after receiving Arafat's medical records from the French hospital that treated the Palestinian leader, despite objections from Arafat's widow.

"The dossier was given to the nephew," General Christian Estripeau, a spokesman for the French military's health services, said earlier Monday.

Arafat's widow, Suha, who already has taken possession of his medical records, had threatened a legal fight to prevent other family members from obtaining them.

Mrs. Arafat's lawyers issued a statement late Sunday saying that the military hospital where her husband was treated outside Paris "would alone face the consequences" if his medical records were released to any other family members.

"Madame Arafat fully understands the diplomatic and historic reasons that exist, but that does not mean the state should be able to ignore the law," said the lawyers' statement.