In/out of state
Workers opened Arafat's tomb before daybreak Tuesday, laying bare the remains some four metres below ground level, the Palestinian health minister said. A Palestinian forensics examiner took some 20 samples and handed them to Swiss, French and Russian experts, officials said.
By midmorning, the grave was resealed, and Palestinian officials laid wreaths of flowers to signal Arafat's reburial.The three teams will separately analyze the samples for possible poison, including polonium-210, a lethal radioactive substance first detected in elevated amounts on some of Arafat's clothing this summer.
Polonium disintegrates rapidly, and experts have cautioned that too much time may have passed since Arafat's death to reach a conclusive result.
Former Sharon spokesman Raanan Gissin said Tuesday that such allegations are baseless and that Israel "had no reason" to kill Arafat, who in his final years lived under Israeli military siege in his walled West Bank compound.Palestinians launched an investigation immediately after Arafat's death at a French military hospital but made no progress. The dormant probe got a jolt this summer when a Swiss lab found the polonium on Arafat belongings provided by his widow, Suha.
Arafat died a month after falling ill at his West Bank compound. The immediate cause of death was a stroke, but the underlying reasons remain unclear, leading to widespread belief in the Arab world that Israel poisoned him.Medical files released by Palestinian investigators earlier this year portrayed Arafat as a robust 75-year-old whose sudden health crisis was initially blamed on viral gastroenteritis.
Arafat's downward spiral began October 11, 2004, when he vomited after a late supper. His condition deteriorated and two weeks later he was flown to France where he died Nov. 11, 2004.
Dr. Bashir Abdullah, a physician on the Palestinian team of investigators, said Tuesday that Arafat's death "cannot be explained in the framework of disease, and therefore our explanation is that there must have been poisonous material."
Palestinian officials acknowledged Tuesday that they had a long road ahead and that the investigation could hit a dead end.
Tawfik Tirawi, the head of the Palestinian team, said the Palestinians would ask the International Criminal Court to investigate further if there is evidence of poisoning.
Later this week, Abbas is seeking UN recognition of "Palestine" as a non-member observer state, an upgrade that could give Palestinians access to the ICC.
A Mossad assassination by radiation poisoning is entirely possible. Arafat himself - as the figurehead and national leader - was a threat no matter what his age was. Despite the heavy restrictions and virtual house arrest in which the Israelis had kept Arafat for the last few years topping him would have always been on the cards. Arafat had escaped Israeli hit squads and assassination attempts on numerous occasions - it's not such a big leap to think the Israeli's finally managed to find a way to kill him.
The PLO leader and Palestine Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, is on the way to the UN to try again for recognition of Palestine (against a hostile US and Israel) - this time as an "observer" nation.
The vote is due on Friday NZ time. France has said it would support the application, but the UK will not. Last year the PA tried for full member status but was blocked by the US who said they would veto it if it came before the Security Council.
The current mission for Palestine to the UN recounts a UN General Assembly resolution from 2004:
Resolution 58/292 (17 May 2004)
Resolution adopted by the General Assembly 58/292. Status of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East JerusalemThe General Assembly,
Recalling its resolutions 3237 (XXIX) of 22 November 1974, 43/177 of 15 December 1988 and 52/250 of 7 July 1998,
Recalling also Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) of 22 November 1967, 338 (1973) of 22 October 1973, 1397 (2002) of 12 March 2002 and 1515 (2003) of 19 November 2003,
Recalling further the relevant provisions of international law, as well as relevant United Nations resolutions, with regard to Israeli settlements and to Occupied East Jerusalem,
Reaffirming the principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force,
Noting that Palestine, in its capacity as observer and pending its attainment of full membership in the United Nations, does not present credentials to the General Assembly,
Affirming the need to enable the Palestinian people to exercise sovereignty and to achieve independence in their State, Palestine,
1. Affirms that the status of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, remains one of military occupation, and affirms, in accordance with the rules and principles of international law and relevant resolutions of the United Nations, including Security Council resolutions, that the Palestinian people have the right to self-determination and to sovereignty over their territory and that Israel, the occupying Power, has only the duties and obligations of an occupying Power under the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949 1 and the Regulations annexed to the Hague Convention respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, of 1907; 2
2. Expresses its determination to contribute to the achievement of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and the attainment of a just and comprehensive negotiated peace settlement in the Middle East resulting in two viable, sovereign and independent States, Israel and Palestine, based on the pre-1967 borders and living side by side in peace and security.
I have no clue as to what the NZ government's position is on observer status. Usually they fall in line with the US (and to a lesser extent the UK), but sometimes there is no whipping if the issue is not crucial. It will be interesting what the NZ vote is because NZ voted in favour of creating Israel and thus the whole "two state solution" mire. We ought to remember that what has been voted can be un-voted and what has thus been created can also be un-created.
UPDATE 30/11/2012: UN general assembly vote: 138 yes (incl. NZ), 9 against (Incl. USA, Canada), 41 abstensions (Incl. UK, Germany, Australia, Netheralnds).