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French experts rule out Arafat poisoning
Published Tuesday 03/12/2013 (updated) 05/12/2013 11:00
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Israeli soldiers pictured by a mural of late Palestinian leader
Yasser Arafat. (MaanImages/File)
PARIS (AFP) -- French experts have ruled out a theory that Yasser Arafat was killed by poisoning, a source close to the investigation into the Palestinian leader's 2004 death told AFP.

"The report rules out the poisoning theory and goes in the sense of a natural death," the source said.

The French experts' findings differ significantly from those of Swiss scientists, who said last month that their research offered some support for the suggestion Arafat was killed by polonium poisoning.

Rumors and speculation have surrounded Arafat's death since a quick deterioration of his health saw his passing at a military hospital near Paris in November 2004 at the age of 75.

French doctors were unable to say what killed him and an autopsy was never performed, at the request of his widow.

Many Palestinians believed he was poisoned by Israel -- a claim they repeatedly denied.

Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told AFP the results of the French probe were "no surprise".

France opened a formal murder inquiry into his death in August 2012, a month after an Al-Jazeera documentary linked his death to polonium poisoning.

Some 60 samples were taken from Arafat's remains in November 2012 and divided between Swiss and Russian investigators and a French team carrying out a probe at his widow's request.

Both the prosecutors' office in the Paris suburb of Nanterre, which is conducting the French probe, and a lawyer for Arafat's widow Suha refused to comment on the investigation's findings Tuesday.

The Swiss team said the test results neither confirmed nor denied polonium was the actual source of his death, although they provided "moderate" backing for the idea he was poisoned by the rare and highly radioactive element.

They said the quantity of the deadly substance found on his remains pointed to the involvement of a third party.

Russia's Federal Medical-Biological Agency has yet to release its findings.

A report by news agency Interfax in October quoted its chief Vladimir Uiba as saying Arafat "could not have been poisoned by polonium" but the medical agency later denied he had made any statement.

Palestinian Justice Minister Ali Mhanna last month urged France to release the results of its probe, saying the Palestinians were sure Arafat had been poisoned and that Israel was the "only suspect" in his death.

Israeli President Shimon Peres, who shared the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize with Arafat and Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, said last month that the reports of polonium poisoning were unbelievable.

"If someone had wanted to get rid of Arafat, it would have been easier to do it with a bullet," he said.

The Swiss team's findings sparked fresh accusations from the Palestinians and increased tensions with Israel at a delicate time.

US-brokered peace talks resumed at the end of July after a three-year gap, but have already hit a deadlock over Israeli settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank on land the Palestinians want for their future state.

Arafat shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Israeli leaders after signing the landmark Oslo accords in 1993, when hopes ran high for a negotiated settlement to the conflict.
1 ) Claudia / Italy
03/12/2013 19:29
Just wait till EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, the UN Security Council, Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour United Nations and Humanitarian Coordinator James Rawley, The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs The International Federation for Human Rights, Defenders of Human Rights Center, Ahrar Center for Prisoners Studies & Human Rights Philip Luther, Middle East & North Africa Director at Amnesty International, all 'express concern'.

2 ) kvetcher / Hungary
03/12/2013 19:35
Ah, the French expert scientists have seen the light, equipped with their stronger and brighter torches, to look up our Dear Leader's back bottom.

3 ) pocket wind / UK
03/12/2013 19:38
Just get the fragrant Suha, to return the millions of ? and $ given in aid to the poor Arabs.

4 ) Goldie / US
03/12/2013 20:02
The French would do anything to brown nose Israel, good little followers that they are. As we saw with France's attempt to sabotage a deal with Iran, facts have no validity when France wants to spin its untruths and this report is more evidence of France's lies to appease its Israeli masters. ISRAEL AND NO ONE ELSE KILLED ARAFAT. FRANCE KNOWS IT, ISRAEL KNOWS IT AND THE WORLD KNOWS IT!

5 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
03/12/2013 20:24
Damn those French! Shooting down yet another Pallywood conspiracy theory. The French clearly have no respect for international laws of fiction!

6 ) Arnold / Canada
03/12/2013 21:04
Is there a version of hell in Islam. If so may he spend lots of time there.

7 ) charles / UK
03/12/2013 23:00
Last month they were 99% certain that he was poisoned. This month I suppose everyone's been paid off.

8 ) Tibi / Tubas
04/12/2013 02:30
- The "rumors, speculations, and findings differ significantly", so - It is will probably never be possible to know how Arafat died, much less if he was killed at all, and if so by whom, and besides, - At this stage it doesn't matter any way !!!

9 ) Colin Wright / USA
04/12/2013 03:03
'Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told AFP the results of the French probe were "no surprise". ' Of course, WHY the results would be no surprise remains a matter for speculation.

10 ) shirley / australai
04/12/2013 03:32
just who do you support maan news you adirty zionist spies and US collabortaors this is utter fith how can france differ did they test for polonium freance is azionst hole state a US impearlist lap dog the west wants apal state gone and the only thing abbas has achieved is the totalweakening of it and help US eu destroy ME with lies and threats war you are adisgrace you defile arrafat memory and palestinian struggle may god stike you dead for what you have involved inand agaisnst egypt MB

11 ) wjm / usa
04/12/2013 04:38
True, Mr Perez. It is easy to kill Arafat by shooting him, as Israel has tried to do many times, before Oslo. But it is not easier to both shoot Arafat and make it look like he was not assassinated. In fact, that Arafat had ingested polonium poisoning would have never been suspected had not the Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko succumbed to polonium some years later in London in what was a better understood and more public degeneration to death.

12 ) Rami / Palestine
04/12/2013 08:40
The French were also the ones that refused to allow doctors to conduct an autopsy on Abu Amar when he died. If they had, they would have known a long time ago that there were suspicious traces of polonium in his blood. France has no credibility whatsoever on this issue. They're playing with facts to maintain political relationships with the Israelis.

13 ) Rami / Palestine
04/12/2013 09:56
#11 What definition of journalism do you subscribe to? You're comment indicates that you're upset with the French government. What does that have to do with Ma'an and why are they "dirty Zionist spies and US collaborators (yes, I corrected your spelling)" just because you don't agree with what the French are saying? You also spelled your own country wrong and that's just sad.
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