And Ronen Bergman, an Israeli writer on security issues with contacts in the intelligence world, commented that
there are quite a few reasons to believe that Arafat died of natural causes. Israeli spokespeople strongly denied that Israel was involved in the affair. It was a decisive, unequivocal denial that was not accompanied by a wink, as was the case in other unexplained Mideast deaths (Imad Mugniyah, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh).
“We are not involved,” senior, grim faced intelligence and political officials told me, on the record, in interviews following Arafat’s death….
On the other hand, Bergman doesn’t completely rule out Israeli involvement:
there is no doubt that Arafat’s death came at a rather odd timing…. If Sharon indeed ordered Arafat’s assassination, this must have been done very secretly, in much smaller forums than any other assassination. The sensitivity would have been great, towards the Palestinians and perhaps more importantly towards the Americans.
And if it wasn’t Israel, what did kill the terror leader? Some say AIDS; some suspect intra-Palestinian foul play; while Israeli Middle East scholar Barry Rubin insists it was a combination of natural causes and incompetent physicians.
Will Arafat be dug up, and even if he is, will the resulting inquiries provide trustworthy results? The above-cited Israel Hayom report informs us that
during a press conference in Paris on Friday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Ramallah would not object to having Arafat’s body dug up from his grave to see if he was poisoned, if Arafat’s family submitted an official request for it.
Abbas noted, however, that the Palestinian Authority had not yet received any formal request to open Arafat’s grave.
In any case, another Israeli Middle East observer, Guy Bechor, says Al Jazeera’s polonium contentions evoked embarrassingly little response. That, Bechor claims, is a symptom of the fact that the Arab world has lost interest in the Israeli-Palestinian issue, being much more concerned about “what truly threatens it: poverty, unemployment, short life expectancy, the low quality of education for the next generation and the feeling of helplessness.”
And that sense of despair, one can add, has helped give rise to the Islamist ascendancy now evident in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and other parts of the Middle East including the Palestinians themselves—clearly in Hamas-ruled Gaza and to some extent in the West Bank as well.
Arafat, on the other hand—while hardly averse to using Islamist slogans to incite his masses to commit atrocities against Israelis—was of secular-nationalist profile. In that regard, resurrecting him at this point may be a bit passé.
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