Israel is demanding French officials immediately change the birthplace listed on the late PLO leader Yasser Arafat’s death certificate from Jerusalem to Cairo, an Israeli diplomat in Paris said yesterday.
“We expect the truth to be revealed, especially in light of the fact that the formal document was published by a Western country,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
According to the Israeli diplomat, letters were sent to the French state prosecutor’s office, to interior minister Dominique de Villepin and to the local municipality of Clamart where the military hospital in which Arafat treated is located, all demanding Arafat’s death certificate be amended to accurately reflect what they say is his real birthplace – Cairo, Egypt.
Arafat, who died at the age of 75 of a still undisclosed illness on Nov. 11, always claimed he was born in Jerusalem.
But Israel and leading Arafat biographers say he was born in Cairo where his father owned a business.
The official said that after Arafat’s death, his wife Suha gave the French Foreign Ministry their nine-year-old daughter’s birth certificate, which listed Arafat’s birthplace as Jerusalem.
“The French authorities are using (that) … as proof that Arafat was born in Jerusalem,” the official said. “The French authorities didn’t ask for proof of authenticity of (what was listed on the daughter’s) birth certificate.”
Israel’s ambassador to France, Nissim Zvili, on Thursday told journalists: “I cannot understand how the French government agreed to issue a death certificate based on false information.”
The issue of Jerusalem has been sensitive in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Arafat had said he wanted a state that encompassed parts of Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount, although at Camp David in 2000, he turned down an offer that included East Jerusalem and instead launched a terrorist war against Israel that is ongoing.