JERUSALEM — A Swiss medical report into Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s death that may support a poisoning theory is more “soap opera than science,” an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman said Thursday.
“As an observer from the side, I can note that the poisoning theory has huge holes in it,” spokesman Yigal Palmor said by phone. “The mere levels of polonium that have allegedly been found in themselves mean nothing at all.”
Arafat died on Nov. 11, 2004, and his remains were exhumed at the end of 2012 after his wife Suha requested an autopsy to search for traces of a poisonous substance. Palestinians have accused Israel of causing Arafat’s death, though no conclusive evidence has been presented. Israel denies killing him.
A similar medical report released by Russia’s Federal Medical-Biological Agency last month uncovered no trace of polonium in Arafat’s remains, Interfax reported Oct. 16, citing the head of the agency.
The Swiss report, which al-Jazeera posted on its website Thursday and couldn’t be immediately verified, said that taking into account the length of time from the death, its results “moderately support the proposition that the death was the consequence of poisoning with polonium-210.”
Palmor said the findings had “zero impact,” on any current events, including U.S.-mediated peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians that resumed in July.
Tawfiq Tirawi, head of the Palestinian investigation committee, said in an e-mailed statement that the team will examine the Swiss findings and then publish the results.
Arafat, who founded the Palestine Liberation Organization, died in a French hospital at the age of 75. Doctors at the Percy military hospital in Clamart, France, said he suffered from a brain hemorrhage and fell into a coma before he died.
Polonium, which had been stirred into a cup of tea, was identified as the substance that killed Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB agent who became a critic of the Russian government. Litvinenko died in 2006 after being poisoned in London.
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