Entries in Palestinian Authority (4)


Yasser Arafat's Body to Be Exhumed

JEAN-LOUP GAUTREAU/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Palestinian leaders agreed today to exhume the body of Yasser Arafat after a television documentary suggested that he had been assassinated while being treated in a Paris hospital.

Arafat was 75 and had long been ill when he slipped into a coma and died on Nov. 11, 2004. He had been suffering from a mysterious illness. The cause of the death was never determined and French medical officials would not release details of his illness because of privacy laws. The medical report was given to his family.

The television network al Jazeera broadcast a documentary this week in which a Swiss institute examined clothing provided by Arafat's widow Suha and determined there were high levels of polonium-210, the same substance found to have killed a former Russian spy in London in 2006.

Suha Arafat has since called for her husband's body to be exhumed from its mausoleum in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Presidential adviser Nabil Abu Rdeineh said today that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has given instructions to launch an investigation with international experts to look into the findings of the al Jazeera report.

The Abbas regime will agree to exhume the body, and senior PA official Saab Erakaat demanded that it be conducted by an international committee.

The al Jazeera report was the subject in every shop and street corner throughout the Palestinian territory. In East Jerusalem's main commercial street Saleh al Din, it replaced conversations about the Arab Spring and the Syrian crisis.

People were critical of the PA for not doing anything to advance an investigation of Arafat's death instead of al Jazeera.

And most people said the reports confirmed their own suspicions.

Ahmed Batta, a barber shop owner in East Jerusalem, told ABC News, "We knew for a long time that Arafat was poisoned. What we need to know now is who is behind the killing?"

Batta, 45, had prime suspects in mind.

"The Israeli Mossa and the American CIA," he said.

Arafat's body must be exhumed "so we will know the truth and also we might find who was behind it," Batta said.

Bookstore owner Iyad Muna, 42, told ABC News, "Arafat was killed and we knew that. And we know more than that. We knew that Israel killed him, but there was a lack in evidence. Yesterday we got the evidence."

"Arafat was the symbol of the Palestinian struggle and fight for freedom, but the PA will stay silent because they are interested in keeping the so called peace talks" with Israel, Muna said.

Iyad Dajani, a travel agent, praised al Jazeera's findings and wants them followed up. "It was always on our mind (that Arafat was killed)," he said.

Dajani, 47, however, does not want Arafat's body to be disturbed.

"The truth is there with the military hospital in Paris, and it will be disrespectful for such a great leader like Arafat to have his body exhumed," he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Israel West Bank Construction to Speed Up After UNESCO Vote 

AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- Israel will continue with the construction of about 2,000 housing units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and place a temporary freeze on tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority.  The move is thought to be in retaliation to the announcement that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has awarded Palestinians full membership into the organization.

In a statement, according to Bloomberg, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the settler homes will be built "in areas that in any future arrangement will remain in Israeli hands."

Palestinian officials say the move will break down the peace process.

Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, says Israel's decision will only speed up the destruction of the peace process, according to BBC News.

One member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization Executive Committee called the move "an obituary for the peace process," Bloomberg reports.

A spokesman for Abbas told the Jerusalem Post that "freezing tax revenues belonging to the Palestinian Authority is a provocation and theft of our money."  

There is no final word on whether Israel plans to make its annual payment to UNESCO of $2 million.  The United States has already stated it would freeze a $60 million to the organization scheduled for later in November, the Jerusalem Post reports.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Israel to Hold Talks with Palestinian Government on Uniting

Antenna Audio, Inc./Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- It has been four years since Hamas broke off from the Palestinian Authority's Fatah political group and seized control of Gaza in a bloody coup.

But now, after a series of secret meetings in Cairo, the two groups say they have have struck a deal to reunite their governments in the West Bank and Gaza and hold elections within a year.

Talks on an interim government are set to begin in the coming days.

Palestinian leaders say it's a crucial step towards their goal of becoming an independent state.  But alarm bells are going off in Jerusalem and Washington because Hamas -- which is on the State Department's list of terrorist groups -- denies the existence of Israel and rejects the peace process.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lambasted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for joining forces with Hamas, saying the group aspires to destroy Israel.  He implied  Israel will not hold peace talks if Hamas is part of the equation, saying Abbas will have to choose between peace or Hamas.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Dissolves Cabinet

Photo Courtesy - Pierre Verdy/AFP/ Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- In what some might call another "aftershock" from the earthquake of Egypt's political transition, the Palestinian Authority announced political changes Monday that call for the dissolution of its cabinet.

Prime Minister Salam Fayyad dissolved the Palestinian Authority's 16-member cabinet which many in the region saw as ineffective.  The step is widely being seen as a way to show better governance and appease the Palestinian public so they don't take to the streets in mass demonstrations.

Fayyad had been pushing for a cabinet change and events in Egypt helped him make it happen.  He has six weeks to form a new cabinet, and says he'll choose technocrats who can help build Palestinian institutions.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio