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PA says ready to help uncover cause of Arafat's death

July 4, 2012 10:17 A.M. (Updated: July 4, 2012 2:18 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Fatah's governing body said Tuesday that the Palestinian leadership is ready to cooperate with all sides to determine the circumstances surrounding the death of President Yasser Arafat, after new revelations prompted his widow to call for his body to be exhumed.

Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, called on the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority to form a national committee to resume investigations in Arafat’s death in 2004.

Hamas official Ismael Radwan urged the PA to provide all necessary facilitation to reveal who was was behind Arafat's death.

Arafat, who fell ill while besieged in his compound in Ramallah during the second intifada, eventually passed away in a Paris hospital.

French doctors who treated Arafat in his final days could not establish the cause of death. French officials refused to give details of his condition, citing privacy laws, fueling a host of rumors and theories over the nature of his illness.

On Tuesday, Al Jazeera said the Swiss Institut de Radiophysique had proof that Arafat's personal belongings contained abnormal levels of a rare and radioactive element called polonium.

Dr Francois Bochud of the institute was quoted as saying "an unexplained, elevated amount of unsupported polonium-210" was found on belongings like Arafat's toothbrush and iconic kuffiya.

The substance is believed to be the same which killed Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian spy who died after falling ill in 2006 in London, Al Jazeera reported.

In comments to the Qatar-based broadcaster, Arafat's widow Suha called on the PA to exhume his body to conduct tests for radiation.

Suha told the channel when she asked the French hospital for Arafat's blood and urine samples, she was told they had been ruined. Casting doubt on this explanation, she said doctors refused to discuss her husband's death with her, saying it was a military secret.

Exhuming Arafat's body from his Ramallah grave would require Palestinian Authority authorization, while transporting it outside the West Bank for testing would also need Israeli permission.
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