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Palestinian Authority: We don't know how Arafat died

JERUSALEM – The Palestinian Authority announced yesterday its official investigation into the death of Yasser Arafat was inconclusive, while rumors persisted he died of AIDS and the chief of Hamas told WorldNetDaily of his suspicion the PA was involved in its president’s demise.

“Neither the Palestinian, nor the French report, arrived to conclusive results regarding the causes of Arafat’s illness and death”, PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei said regarding his government’s official investigation. “The reports did not prove that Arafat was poisoned, but they do not void the possibility that Arafat was poisoned by an unknown kind poison.”

It was unclear which steps the PA took to investigate Arafat’s death or who participated in its investigation, the second it has conducted since Arafat’s passing last November.

Contradicting recent statements by Arafat’s personal physician, Qurei said Palestinian and French physicians who treated Arafat did not find indications of AIDS or any other viruses in the late leader’s bloodstream.

“The file will remain open”, Qurei added. “Maybe the doctors might be able to find out the reason for Arafat’s death.”

But the authors of a new Israeli book that features a large section on Arafat’s death claim Dr. Ashraf al-Kurdi, Arafat’s personal physician, told them he knows Arafat’s French doctors found the AIDS virus in his bloodstream.

In “The Seventh War,” journalists Amos Harel and Avi Isacharoff state an analysis of a confidential pathology report from the French hospital in which Arafat died reveals three main possibilities as to the cause of death: AIDS, poisoning or an infection.

Israeli and foreign doctors who told the author’s they saw the report list the specific cause of death as a massive brain hemorrhage. They say the report details do not lead to a conclusive determination on what caused Arafat’s death, but many of the symptoms he exhibited were typical of AIDS.

Al-Kurdi, who played no role in Arafat’s medical care during the final weeks of the Palestinian leader’s life, refused to divulge the source of his AIDS information. He claimed to Harel and Isacharoff the virus was put into Arafat’s blood in an effort to blur the traces of poisoning, which he says was the “real” cause of death.

Some physicians who said they saw Arafat’s medical records told the Israeli authors they were shocked French doctors either failed to test Arafat for HIV or did not include results of an AIDS test in their report.

Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erekat told WND Arafat did not die of AIDS.

“There is absolutely no truth to these AIDS rumors and reports, which are baseless and part of the same campaign that tried to smear Arafat while he was alive,” said Erekat. “I trust the French, and they didn’t conclude anything about AIDS. I am not an investigator, so I can’t say how he died, but I don’t think it was from AIDS.”

Responding to rampant rumors Arafat was a homosexual, Erekat said, “That is utter nonsense and doesn’t merit any reaction.”

A recent investigation by the New York Times which claimed it too saw Arafat’s medical records concluded the late PLO leader died of a stroke. The Times report, which says it is the “first independent review of [Arafat’s medical] documents” disputed claims Arafat died of AIDS. But like the Israeli analysis, the report states Arafat’s French doctors did not include HIV testing in their records, “an omission experts found bizarre.”

Meanwhile, a senior spokesman for Hamas said today the group stands by statements made to WorldNetDaily last week by Hamas chief Mahmoud al-Zahar regarding the PA investigation into Arafat’s demise.

Al-Zahar told WND during an exclusive interview:”I can tell you from the beginning that this committee will never publish its results. It will not do so in order to keep from harm elements and members in the PA. Also, its members do not want Palestinian elements and other personalities and even other states to be involved in their investigation.”

“I, myself, as a doctor wonder what is the disease Arafat supposedly had that cannot be diagnosed and that the big France did not succeed in diagnosing. This is a crime and it is a political issue. And many persons, many elements and many states are not interested in clarifying this story in order to prevent problems. I also believe that Arafat died a long time before the official statement of his death was given. He died at least a week before it was announced.”

Arafat died Nov. 11, 2004 in a French military hospital. The official cause of his death was never released because French law prohibits distribution of medical records to anyone other than immediate family.

Arafat’s widow, Suha, has refused to divulge any details of his illness.

Erekat told WND he called on Suha Arafat to immediately release all medical reports “so the truth can be determined once and for all.”