by Khalid Amayreh


In his lifetime, Yasser Arafat, the late Palestinian leader, was always a controversial figure.  To his supporters, he was almost a god-like character who saved the Palestinian  national cause from what could have been a definitive demise. It was probably thanks to Arafat (and the resilient steadfastness of our people) that the Palestinians have survived as a people in spite of history, a history that has always been and continues to be unkind to us.

Arafat had often to wrestle with death wherever he went and was able to survive the machinations and exploits of his internal and external enemies…until his time came.

To his enemies, who were many and diverse, he was a mercurial, unethical and dishonest figure.  Arafat had to navigate the treacherous precipices of the Middle East by often appeasing and placating Arab despots from Abdul Nasser to Saddam Hussein who often seriously undermined the Palestinian cause thanks to their unscrupulous policies and scandalous miscalculations.

Now in the belly of earth for five years, Arafat is still as controversial as he was alive, and many questions are still unresolved as to the real circumstances surrounding his death. Was he really poisoned by the Israeli intelligence? Did some of his aides play a role in poisoning him? Did the current PLO leadership connive with Israel to kill Arafat, as Fatah’ leader Farouk al Qaddumi claimed  a few months ago?

The Palestinian Authority asserted on many occasions that Arafat was killed by way of poisoning by secret Israeli agents. Arafat’s personal physician supported this hypothesis. But this view contravenes the French medical report which  established that Arafat died of the AIDS illness.

So far, the PA and the PLO have utterly failed to carry out a thorough and genuine investigation into Arafat’s death despite the passage of five year.

Even today, the Palestinian people don’t know the exact circumstances of his death. Similarly, his widow, Suha, continues to refuse to divulge the secrets surrounding his death.

Arafat’s nephew Nasser Al-Qidwa has affirmed that Israel and Israel alone is responsible for uncle’s  death.

Al-Qidwa  pointed out in a speech marking the fifth anniversary of  Arafat’s  death, in Ramallah Wednesday, 11 November,  that the late Palestinian leader “ was poisoned by Israel and died a martyr’s death” and that “ we are determined to obtain the last piece of evidence” which will uncover the whole truth about his death.”

True, it is extremely difficult to say for sure who stood behind the “liquidation” of Arafat if indeed he was liquidated by way of inserting poison into his food or body.

Nonetheless, in the absence of a real investigation by a professional and credible committee, questions will continue to be asked as to whether there was a conspiracy in which some of his closest aides were involved.

In short, the Palestinian people are entitled to know the truth about what exactly happened. As to the reluctance of the PA and the PLO to tell the truth in this regard, it can only mean that they either have something to hide from the people and are afraid of divulging the truth, or that they are breaching the trust of their people.

Another matter: It is well known that Yasser Arafat, who during his lifetime held all the reins, took all the decisions, and controlled all the money, left hundreds of millions of dollars deposited under his name.

Hence, the Palestinian people want also to know where these hundreds of millions went and how they disappeared. After all, these were the people’s monies, and every Palestinian man, woman and child has a legitimate right to know the full truth in this regard.

In recent years, it was reported on several occasions that certain Fatah and PLO figures held a secret agreement with Suha Arafat a few weeks after his death.  According to the agreement, Arafat’s widow received a huge amount of money in return for her “silence.”

One report pointed out that Suha, who was living in Tunis until two years ago, transferred $50 million dollars to a Maltese bank. Her brother is the PLO ambassador to Malta.

The veracity of the report was neither confirmed nor denied which really raises a big question mark about the indulgence of the PLO leadership in a huge “foul play” at the expense of the Palestinian people.

As a journalist, I once confronted some senior PLO officials with this issue. At the beginning, they tried to evade the subject, but when I pressed them further, they told me that I had to carry out a thorough investigation and obtain a damning evidence corroborating  “these allegations.” I told them that an investigation as such would require an entire state apparatus and that in any case a journalist’s job wouldn’t go beyond raising the issue. At this point, I was told “to put up or shut up.”

I have no doubt that a big foul play occurred concerning the hefty bank accounts left by the late Palestinian leader. Similarly, I have no doubt that certain PLO figures, people such Muhammed Rashid, aka Khaled Salam, and are hiding sensitive pertinent information in this regard.

I am not suggesting that these people be hounded or harmed in any way. However, it is imperative that  these people must be thoroughly investigated in order to establish the truth. Again, the millions of dollars embezzled are the people’s money and our people have every right to know the fate of these millions.

It is really sad that the PA government which doesn’t stop boasting about “law and order” has done next to nothing to recover the embezzled money.

There are two main reasons contributing to this shameful inaction on the part of the Palestinian justice system. First, it is likely that some figures within the PA government are themselves implicated in corruption dating back to Arafat’s era. After all, the corrupt cannot  investigate the corrupt, as the popular saying goes.

Second, it is even more likely that these silent  “witnesses” are worried that should they speak out, their lives would be in danger from the big thieves and their agents and accomplices.

Well, this is a sad fact which really caricatures the pathetic state of affair under the Palestinian Authority. After all, a bad beginning makes a bad ending.

A final word about Arafat. Today, the current PA leadership, which openly conspired with the Americans, and probably with the Israelis as well, against the late Palestinian leader is now singing the praises of Yasser Arafat.

Needless to say, this  is an ultimate expression of hypocrisy and dishonesty. And the Palestinian people must not be fooled by these hypocrites.

1 Comment

  1. Hans said,

    November 13, 2009 at 05:35

    Over the years I donated my hard earned money for the Palestinian cause only to read articles like this. Now you wonder why I am so upset with them “spineless donkeys”!

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