The Palestinians said yesterday that Israel is the only suspect in the “assassination” of Yasser Arafat, a day after Swiss experts said tests suggested their veteran leader was killed by polonium poisoning.
“We say that Israel is the one and only suspect in the case of Yasser Arafat’s assassination, and we will continue to carry out a thorough investigation to find out and confirm all the details and all elements of the case,” said Tawfiq Tirawi, head of the Palestinian Authority’s inquiry into the death.
“This is the crime of the 21st century,” Tirawi said in the West Bank town of Ramallah. “The fundamental (goal) is to find out who is behind the liquidation of Yasser Arafat.”
The Palestinian president, aged 75, died in Paris on Nov 11, 2004, after falling sick a month earlier. Doctors were unable to specify the cause of death and no postmortem was carried out at the time.
Palestinian society has long given currency to the rumour that Arafat was murdered, with Israel most often blamed. But there has never been any proof.
Tirawi said Palestinian investigators had studied the findings of Swiss scientists released this week which “moderately” supported the notion of poisoning.
In Nov 2012, Arafat’s remains were exhumed and samples taken, partly to investigate whether he had been poisoned with polonium. That suspicion had grown after the assassination in that manner of Russian ex-spy and Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006.
Speaking to reporters in Lausanne on Thursday, the Swiss team said the test results neither confirmed nor denied polonium was the actual cause of his death, although they provided “moderate” backing for the idea he was poisoned by the rare radioactive element.
Israel once again firmly denied killing Arafat.
“I will state this as simply and clearly as I can: Israel did not kill Arafat. Period. And that’s all there is to it,” foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told AFP. “The Palestinians should stop levelling all these groundless accusations at Israel without the slightest proof. Israel did not do it. Enough is enough.”
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