Ever since the Jazeera documentary broke, pointing to strong evidence that late President Yasser Arafat was poisoned to death, the Palestinians have found themselves captivated –” yet again –” with their number one leader. The fact that the poison said to have been used –” polonium –” can only be obtained from a nuclear reactor, only made the Palestinians believe even more that Israel had an ugly hand in the whole thing.
President Mahmoud Abbas has invited a team of experts from the Swiss-based Institute of Radiophysics –” the institute which first examined Arafat’s belongings and detected high traces of polonium, to Ramallah to continue their work. This time, they would be working with Arafat’s exhumed body, hopefully to conclude beyond the shadow of a doubt that polonium is what killed him.
That would be the easy part. A cut and dry result that President Arafat had ingested enough polonium to poison his bloodstream and basically kill him within four weeks time is an open and shut case. The more entangled issue is of course, who did it?
Most Palestinians seem or want to believe that Israel –” the only country in the surrounding region with a nuclear reactor –” was the culprit. At the time of Arafat’s death, then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon made no attempts to hide his contempt for the Palestinian leader, calling him “irrelevant” and practically openly ordering his assassination. Plus, this would not have been the first attempt on Arafat’s life by Israel, which successfully killed armfuls of other Palestinian leaders in the past, including with poison.
So, if Israel was directly involved in Arafat’s death, no one would be surprised. However, at the time, Arafat had been besieged in his presidential headquarters for two years. Israel had almost all but destroyed the buildings around him and only his closest aides were allowed in his sleeping and eating quarters. That of course, begs the question, how did Israel manage to get to poisoning into Arafat’s food in the first place?
Conspiracy theories have gone viral, obviously. The “inside job” theory seems plausible enough but the question is who and just how high up was the person who helped to kill Arafat.
It is a sticky a situation. Right now the Palestinian Authority and presidency are playing their part dutifully –” insisting on finding out the truth behind Arafat’s death, calling in the Swiss experts, and vowing to bring whoever killed the president to justice. There is no doubt that the truth will ultimately come out, especially if the group of experts can detect how and when Arafat ingested the poison. And when the truth comes out, who will feel the backlash?
It is very likely that if it were an inside job, a random employee at the Muqata’ was recruited by Israel to do its dirty work. Israel has had a long history of turning desperate or money-driven Palestinians into collaborators and has subsequently used them to track down and kill fellow Palestinians. Of course, this job was far more high profile than others, and would have been carried out with the utmost meticulousness and secrecy. Still, it seems the most likely scenario given the circumstances.
But what no one dares to ask is this: what if the plot involved others higher up in the leadership hierarchy? Although unlikely, it is a possibility and one that would blow the culprits right out of the water.
At this point everyone wants to know the truth. Yasser Arafat, in spite of his shortcomings and mistakes, was the Palestinians’ beloved leader and the one man who almost singlehandedly put Palestine back on the political map. Israel, if nothing else, was surely happy to have him out of the picture. If a collaborator was involved, one could clearly envision a lowly employee who was enticed into selling his soul for a few measly dollars. Let us hope this is the end of the story. Anything beyond that is unthinkable.