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Are US, France Pressuring Palestinian Authority to Quit Arafat Probe?

Palestinian officials 'flip-flop' over investigation

Common Dreams staff

Yasser Arafat (Photo: Pedro Ugarte/AFP/Getty Images)

A Palestinian investigation into the mysterious death of former leader Yasser Arafat may be facing serious opposition from the US and France behind closed doors, a Palestinian official warned. Media outlets are now reporting on an apparent 'flip-flop' in Palestinian efforts to exhume Arafat's remains for autopsy.

A Palestinian official, who remained anonymous, told Chinese news agency Xinhua that the US and others have pressured Palestinian leadership to put an end to the inquiry because it would compromise the Middle East peace process.

Arafat died in 2004 from an illness that has yet to be explained. Palestinian suspicions have long held that Israel poisoned Arafat. Israel has denied all such charges.

Earlier this week, Palestinian officials announced that Arafat's bones would be exhumed. The decision followed a report by Switzerland’s Institute of Radiation Physics that found unexplained and abnormally high levels of polonium-210, a highly radioactive substance, on Arafat's clothes, toothbrush, kaffiyeh, and other personal belongings.

But on Thursday officials with the Palestinian Authority looking into Arafat’s death suddenly reversed course. Palestinian Justice Minister Ali Mohanna told a news conference Thursday that a further review of the Swiss lab report will be conducted before a final decision to exhume Arafat's bones is made. No explanation for the U-turn was offered.

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