Author: ADAM RASGON
Posted November 14, 2016
“Jordanian journalist hints Dahlan played role in 2004”
Palestine Liberation Organization chairman Yasser Arafat waves as he is briefly lifted on the shoulders of Palestinian police moments after entering the Gaza Strip in 1994.
Wafa, the Palestinian Authority’s news site, published a report on Sunday accusing Israel and Palestinians of collaborating to kill former PA President Yasser Arafat.
“Israel was able through direct and indirect means to bend the hand of the late president Arafat, besieging and poisoning him and using Palestinian tools to oust and subsequently kill him,” Sultan al-Huttab, a Jordanian journalist, wrote in the official PA media outlet.
In Ramallah in late 2004, Arafat became ill and fell into a coma. He was transfered to a French military hospital near Paris, where he died in November, aged 75. Several international and regional teams have investigated Arafat’s death, but have been unable to determine definitively the cause.
In his report, Huttab did not specify Israel’s or the Palestinians’ supposed roles in Arafat’s death, but cited a meeting between self-exiled Fatah leader Muhammad Dahlan (a rival of PA President Mahmoud Abbas) and a number of Jordanian journalists including himself in August 2004, where Dahlan supposedly said he wanted to do away with Arafat.
“Our guest [Dahlan] began his remarks expressing doubt in president Arafat’s leadership, saying that the time has come to get rid of it,” Huttab recounted, adding that “Dahlan said he has 30,000 armed fighters, who are waiting for his signal to remove president Yasser Arafat.”
Huttab added that Arafat “died on November 11, 2004, three months after Dahlan [stated] his intention to carry out a coup against him,” suggesting that Dahlan killed Arafat.
PA and Fatah leaders have previously accused Israel, Dahlan and a number of unknown Palestinians of conspiring to kill Arafat.
On Friday, Abbas told a ceremony commemorating Arafat that he cannot say who killed his predecessor, but promised that everyone “will be surprised,” a statement largely seen as a veiled reference to Dahlan.
Israel and Dahlan have denied any connection to the death of Arafat.
On Saturday evening, Dahlan responded to Abbas’s comments, saying that the PA president “is not qualified to make accusations and he personally is in the circle of accusation and the sole beneficiary of Abu Ammar’s [Arafat’s] disappearance from the scene.”
Abbas and Dahlan have exchanged barbs over the past many weeks ahead of the meeting of the seventh Fatah General Congress in late November, which is expected to elect a new Fatah leadership.
Analysts believe Abbas plans to use the conference to consolidate his authority and remove Dahlan and his supporters from Fatah leadership roles.