IN PURSUIT OF THE MURDERERS
In fact, it seems as if he is still with us. Arafat is still pursuing his murderers.
A recent Swiss report made clear that Arafat was poisoned with Polonium; a substance possessed by only a handful of countries – including Israel, the party with the strongest motive for getting rid of him. In fact, the Israeli government decided in September 2004 to eliminate Arafat, only two months before his death.
Arafat was always a target for assassination by successive Israeli governments. Indeed, he survived several attempts on his life. The Israelis targeted him with an air raid in Beirut, another air raid in Tunisia, and finally blockaded his headquarters in Ramallah in 2002. Israel controlled everything that entered and came out of Arafat's headquarters, including food, drink, and visitors. The Israeli government also launched a campaign to vilify Arafat, calling him a 'terrorist,' and openly threatened to kill him.
Uri Dan, an Israeli journalist close to former Israeli Ariel Sharon, writes in his biography of Sharon that in a phone call between the Israeli Prime Minister and U.S. President George W. Bush, the latter asked Sharon to leave Arafat's fate to divine providence, to which Sharon replied that 'perhaps divine providence needs human help.' Bush was silent, which was interpreted by Sharon as a license to kill Arafat.
In fact, no new evidence was needed to prove that Arafat was poisoned. That issue was settled a long time ago, when Arafat, a healthy man, suddenly fell ill and died within a month. What was – and is, now more than ever – needed is a political position on the scale of the event that is capable of pursuing Arafat's killers and bringing them to justice; a position brave enough to officially accuse the Sharon-Mofaz government of committing that heinous act against a historical leader who established the Palestinian national identity and won the Nobel peace prize. Israel killed Arafat despite the big steps he took for peace. He was punished for rejecting an offer Israel described as 'generous.'
That 'offer,' made by Ehud Barak at Camp David, was in fact neither generous nor indeed a peace offer at all, but a plan to liquidate the Palestinian cause. It was therefore natural for Arafat to reject it and opt for resistance – an option he renounced after the signing of the Oslo accords in the belief that negotiations could fulfil his lifelong dream of Palestinian statehood.
But why were no steps taken to pursue the Israeli killers and their Palestinian accomplices? Why did the Palestinians allow third parties, such as al-Jazeera (which have their own motives), to take the lead in investigating Arafat's death? Why did the Palestinian leadership not refer the case to the UN and demand an international investigation (similar to that launched after the  death of Lebanese PM Rafiq Hariri) in order to uncover, pursue, and prosecute Arafat's killers. Such a course of action would have kept the murderers on their toes, ever fearful of being called to account.
I say this despite knowing that the formation of a special international court requires a Security Council resolution, which would have inevitably been vetoed by the United States. But the issue could have been referred to the General Assembly – as [senior Fatah official and Arafat’s nephew] Nasser Qidwa called for recently.
Why not refer the case to the International War Crimes Tribunal? Why did the Palestinian leadership consider it enough just to ask the Arab League to activate its decision to form an 'international commission of investigation?' The Palestinians must shoulder their responsibilities in order to uncover the identities of those in their midst who aided and abetted Arafat's murder.
In order to answer these questions and others, we have to go back to the report issued by the French hospital in which Arafat was treated until his death. The report stated that, 'Arafat's death could have been due to the ingestion of a poison of which we have no knowledge.' The discovery of Polonium in Arafat's tissues eight years after his death means that its levels were far higher in his body at the time of his death.
But for reasons best known to them, the French decided to conceal the cause of death and evidence of the crime. In fact, those reasons could be the same ones that led France to refuse to cooperate with the Palestinian committee of investigation – as committee member Ali al-Mhenna said at the press conference called to announce the results of the Russian and Swiss investigations.
It now appears that there was a French-international-Arab-Israeli decision to bury the secret if Arafat's death along with his body. It appears that the Palestinian leadership went along with that decision, which was made in order to avoid a major political earthquake that would inevitably have taken place had Israel been found to be responsible for Arafat's death.
Had Israeli officials been implicated and found politically and criminally responsible, the situation would have changed irrevocably. Negotiations would no longer have been possible, nor would the Palestinians have been forced to implement commitments made in past agreements – especially as far as security cooperation was concerned. The struggle would have been blown wide open, with confrontations in Palestinian cities, towns, villages, as well as in courtrooms at all levels.
Had that happened, it would not have been possible to resume peace talks with no recognized points of reference and no settlement freeze. The current farcical 'peace process' would not have been possible.
The story began when the French advised the Palestinians not to raise the issue of Arafat's murder as soon as it happened. Their priority was to ensure a smooth transition of power to a successor in order to show that the Palestinians were trustworthy and deserving of international respect. Yet respect and trustworthiness did not help the Palestinians gain statehood. In fact, pressures mounted on them to prevent them from referring their case to the UN.
Unfortunately, the Palestinian leadership submitted to those pressures and abandoned their plans to seek membership of several international bodies – especially the international criminal court – despite the fact that doing so would have greatly enhanced their international standing.