News24

Israel killed Arafat: Fatah

2009-08-06 19:02

Bethlehem - The Fatah party blamed Israel on Thursday for the 2004 death of its founder, iconic Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Fatah delegates at the party's first congress in 20 years unanimously voted to "attribute to Israel, as an occupying power, full responsibility for the assassination of the martyr Yasser Arafat."

The Nobel Peace Prize winner who led the struggle for Palestinian statehood for nearly four decades died in a French military hospital on November 11 2004 after being airlifted from his headquarters in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

At the time of his death at the age of 75, Palestinian officials charged he had been poisoned by long-time foe Israel, but an inconclusive Palestinian investigation in 2005 ruled out cancer, Aids or poisoning.

That report reiterated previous assessments that Arafat's death "resulted from severe haemorrhaging of the brain".

But it added that Arafat's "clinical state presented several symptoms which could not be explained in the framework of nosology," the classification of diseases.

Delegates to the Fatah congress decided to form a committee to pursue the investigation and deliver its findings to international courts.

Israeli Information Minister Yuli Edelstein categorically rejected the accusation.

"The hallucinatory attempt to blame Israel for Arafat's assassination and perpetuate him as a martyr is aimed at justifying the Palestinians' ongoing armed struggle against Israel, which is extending its hand in peace to them," he said in a statement.