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Tag: Yasser Arafat

Poison Suspected in the Death of Palestinian Leader Yasser Arafat

Nearly eight years after Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat fell ill and died, the circumstances surrounding his death is now being investigated with closer scrutiny.

Arafat died in late 2004 after falling ill and being admitted to a hospital in France. An autopsy done at the hospital found no evidence that would suggest foul play surrounding his death. To this day, his cause of death still remains a mystery.

A separate investigation lead by Al Jazeera, however, revealed a completely different story. They concluded that Arafat was in optimal health before suddenly becoming violently ill. What’s even more intriguing is that an examination of his personal belongings, such as his toothbrush, clothes and even the kaffiyeh that he was always seen wearing, showed high traces of a radioactive element known as polonium.

The tests were done at an institute in Switzerland and showed that the belongings all had traces of Arafat’s urine, saliva and sweat. Further tests also suggest that Arafat may have had high levels of polonium in his internal system at the time of his passing.

Arafat’s widow, Suha Arafat, has now requested for authorities to have his body exhumed and have a full autopsy done. If traces of polonium are found in his bones, then it will suggest that someone may have had him poisoned.

Polonium is also suspected in the death of two scientists involved with Israel’s nuclear program. Its symptoms are still being studied and it is believe that the element kills by poisoning the intestines.

Laboratory tests concluded that polonium found on Arafat’s belongings did not come from natural sources. Most forms of cancer have also been ruled out as the cause of death. Even if Arafat’s body were to be exhumed and tests show that he indeed had levels of polonium, then it would only lead to an even greater question: who killed him?

Happy Birthday Hamas

Happy anniversary to Hamas…Has it really been 22 years already? I guess time flies when you are engaging in guerrilla warfare. To mark the event, hundreds of activists and supporters of the terrorist organization in the West Bank were summoned to several branches of the Palestinian Authority, where it was requested of them to sign a document in which they pledge to refrain from public celebration.

Hamas Birth DayThe PA has taken it upon them self to ban celebrating Hamas’ birthday for the last four years. In Nablus alone, more than 600 Hamas supporters and activists were asked to sign the written statement, promising to refrain from participating or organizing public events. Altogether, about 1,500 men and women have been warned that they would be arrested if they broke the ban.

In the past 48 hours, 25 Hamas supporters were arrested in Nablus, Kalkilya, Ramallah and Hebron. Among the arrested was Muhammad Srour, the former mayor of Ni’lin.

Hamas is planning a mass rally in Gaza City on Monday. Obviously this is under Hamas’s own “jurisdiction.”

The decision to ban Hamas celebrations in the West Bank came just a few weeks after the Palestinian Authority banned Fatah supporters from marking the anniversary of Yasser Arafat’s death.

Some Questions about the Fatah Convention

Fatah, the PLO faction group founded in 1954 by Yasser Arafat, is having its 6th general convention today. I have some questions about it. First, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas opened the festivities by condemning Hamas and saying that investigations are ongoing as to the cause of Arafat’s death.

MIDEAST ISRAEL PALESTINIANS FATAH CONFERENCEQuestion: Why? The fact that he was old, decrepit, and suffering from latent Parkinson’s and just died, hasn’t really clinched it for them yet?

He then went on to say that Israel hasn’t kept its commitments to the United States, including giving up sovereignty over eastern Jerusalem and even parts of the Dead Sea.

Question: When was this? I can’t seem to recall when Israel made those promises to anyone. I can remember, though, when Israel actually offered them to the PLO and they refused.

Then things got more interesting. He continued: “Although peace is our choice, we reserve the right to resistance, legitimate under international law.”

Question: What resistance he’s talking about? Really, I’m curious. Peacefully picketing and civil disobedience? Or is it murdering innocent civilians? I’m just asking, because it’s unclear.

Jibril Rajoub, who used to be in charge of the PA police, then clarified and said that “armed resistance” is always an option, and that Israel must acknowledge that. So there goes nonviolent civil disobedience.

Question: What do you mean, Jibril by “acknowledge?” Does fighting back qualify? Or is acknowledgment only sitting around watching buses explode and retreating?

I’ll tell you what, Jibril. I will gladly acknowledge your resistance if you acknowledge Israel’s response to it. Then we can sit down over a cold beer, a la Obama, Gates, and Crowley at the White House and discuss mutual acknowledgment.

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Barak said it was important that the platform produced by the delegates will be representative of a wide range of views.

Question: What range of views?

President Shimon Peres, mentioning the convention, said that the Palestinians must remember that like Israel, “they must stay committed to the Road Map and the path of negotiations.”

Question: What happens if they don’t, as in the past 9 years?

The only Israelis expected to attend the conference were MKs Ahmed Tibi and Taleb A-Sanaa (UAL-Ta’al) and Muhammad Barakei (Hadash).

Question: Why are Israeli Knesset members allowed to attend a summit about armed resistance against Israel?

Is anybody listening?

Where is he now?

arafat yasserEver since the demise of the PLO’s long time standard bearer and first Palestinian Chairman or “President” Yasser Arafat, many people might be speculating what might be happening to him in the after-life, known to Jews as the Olam ha Bah. During his “illustrious” career, Yasser Arafat had many “accomplishments” he could be proud of, including the murder of several thousand of his avowed “Yahud” enemies by acts of terror (most of which he personally authorized or provided funds for), those cherished moments when he almost became legitimate while shaking hands with a former “Zionist” enemy, Yitzhak Rabin, on the White House Lawn; accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo Norway (the same city which gave its name to the now defunct Oslo Peace Accords); and, his most notable accomplishment of all, providing his widow Suha with a ‘king’s ransom’ of an endowment, making her one of the wealthiest women in the world.

Yes, the Chairman does have a lot to be proud of; including turning his beloved Palestinian Authority into such a mess that it will be a long time (if ever) before it can eventually be worthy of being part of the “two state solution” that the new American President, Barack Obama, is so much in favor of. But perhaps one of Arafat’s greatest achievements was sending so many of own countrymen and women to their deaths in what is known in the Muslim World as Holy Martyrdom or shaheedim . Long before groups known as Hamas or Islamic Jihad came into being, Chairman Arafat, or Comrade Arafat as he was known then, encouraged young Palestinians and international terror associates (Baader Meinhoff, Japanese Red Army, Carlos the Jackal, etc) to wreak death and personal suffering on as many of “the enemy” as could be shot, stabbed, clubbed, or blown up, often with sensational media coverage. A few of these were the slaughter of people at Ben Gurion Airport in May, 1972, by
Members of the Japanense Red Army, the Savoy Hotel terror attack in Tel Aviv, the attack on Jewish school children in Qiryat Shmona, the Egged Bus attack on the Coastal Road in February 1978, and the attack in the coastal town of Nahariya, not long afterwards.

But perhaps his most sensational terror accomplishment was the attack on the Israeli athletes at the summer Olympic Games of August 1972, carried off by members of the Palestinian Black September faction, who had direct ties to Arafat’s Fatah organization. 11 Israeli athletes and coaches lost their lives in an episode that is still being talked about to this day.

Chairman Arafat finally went to his “heavenly reward” in November 2004, after complications from a medical condition which some say was caused by AIDS, and others by some form of poison. He must have been looking forward to meeting up with some of those 72 virgins (the sex of them open to speculation) as is the reward to all those who did holy deeds on behalf of his religion (he was still a devout Muslim, despite his political leanings).

But in Yasser’s case, did he actually meet up with them, or with something else altogether? All of us on the receiving end of his “good deeds” can only hope he received “something else altogether”.

Palestinian Man Gets Death for Selling Land to Jews

In an effort to discourage Palestinians from selling land to “the enemy” a Palestinian Islamic court authorized the death penalty to a man from a small village of Bet Umar north of Hebron in the West Bank. The man, Anwar Brigith, had been convicted of selling land to Jewish settlers living in the area, and was found to be in violation of a Fatwa issued by an Islamic judicial panel forbidding the sale of Palestinian land or houses to Jews.

Brigith was also found to be in violation of a 1979 Palestinian military law (authorized during Yasser Arafat‘s tenure as head of the PLO) which also stated that it is forbidden to sell Palestinian land to Jews. All of Brigith’s personal property, including that belonging to members of his family, may be confiscated as well, due to this harsh conviction.

Why this incident notes merit here, is that we might have expected this kind of punishment to have been levied by a judicial body located in a country like Saudi Arabia or even in Hamas controlled Gaza; where Jews once had property until the disengagement is Israel from Gaza in August, 2005. That this ruling was issued in the West Bank city of Ramallah, where the Fattah controlled Palestinian Authority headquarters is located, doesn’t bode well for any future agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.

Most Palestinians appear to support this kind of sentence against “traitors to the Palestinian Nation”; and although no such sentence has been formally carried out (at least on the West Bank anyway) several Palestinians have been kidnapped and murdered for what were considered to be crimes against the “honor and sovereignty of the Palestinian People”. This has included deals involving property in the Old City of Jerusalem sold to Jews.

Many properties, as well as tracts of land within what is now Israel proper, i.e. within the pre-1967 boundaries, were purchased originally by Jews from Arabs; and it remains to be seen how these parcels will be treated in any final settlement. Many land deals have been made recently in areas like the Galilee – areas, which could one day be “swapped” for permanent settlements now located on the West Bank, if politicians like Avigdor Lieberman have their way.

Zvi Sela & The Good Sheikh Yassin

Sheikh Ahmed YassinIf any of you read an article in Friday’s Haaretz about an interview with former police psychologist Zvi Sela, now turned writer, you may have been as surprised as we were to read Sela’s remarks about deceased Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, whom Sela met with many times during Yassin’s imprisonment in Hadarim Prison, south of Raanana. Sela, who worked for many years as a senior police officer and has a PHD in educational psychology, told Haaretz reporter, Kobi Ben-Shalom, that Yassin, though cruel and ruthless, and responsible for most of the suicide bombings that were killing scores of Israelis during the mid 1990’s, was willing to have his Hamas organization recognize Israel as long as the Palestinians were given a state of their own. Sela said during the interview that “if we (Israel) had tried for an agreement with Yassin, we would have succeeded”. He also said that Yasser Arafat, with whom Israel was trying to negotiate, was in reality very corrupt, and that Hamas could not deal with him at all.

In regards to a final settlement, Yassin was quoted as saying: “I have no interest in destroying you – all I want is a state”.

Sela confessed his unhappiness that Israeli governments refuse to talk to Hamas leaders, saying that this is due to “the ego of our leaders”. During his two years of conversations with Yassin, Sela also had meetings with other imprisoned terrorists, including Samir Kuntar; who said he had not been responsible for the murders of Danny Haran and his daughter in Nahariya in the late 1970’s. Sela seems to paint a different picture of these people, whom many say return to terrorism immediately upon their release back to Gaza or Lebanon. In fact, Sela believes that long time terrorist internees, like Kuntar for instance, do not return to terrorism after being set free.

Return to active terrorism or not, these people certainly do not keep quiet about their feelings towards their former captors, as was seen from Yassin, before his assassination in 2004; and has been seen from Kuntar, who is being used as a symbol of resistance by another Sheikh, Hassan Nasrallah of the Hezbollah.

So are there some “good” terrorists and extremists, as far as Israel’s security is concerned? We’ll let everyone draw their own conclusions on this subject.

Bethlehem Celebrates Brightest Christmas In Years

Bethlehem Celebrates Brightest Christmas In YearsThe Palestinian city of Bethlehem, located a few kilometers south of Jerusalem, may be celebrating its best holiday season in years. Reports from merchants and hotel reservation desks say that the number of pilgrims and tourists visiting the city of Jesus’ birthplace are at least 50% more than in 2006. Times haven’t been good for this biblical city made so popular by the event that supposedly took place about 2010 years ago, and tourism has been a far cry from what it was in prior years; especially in the “heady” years following the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1994. The city that used to see many thousands of foreign visitors converge on it during Christmas time became as still as the above words in the immortal poem by Father Philip Brooks in 1865.

Following the beginning of the Second Intifada Palestinian uprising in September 2000, foreign visits took a nose dive; and tourism was further complicated when a number of hard-line Palestinian militants held up in the Church of the Nativity for days before finally surrendering to Israeli army troops who were surrounding Manger Square. Once boasting a large Christian population, Bethlehem is now predominately Muslim. With the main source of income for the city being tourism, the city had fallen on hard times, and has only begun to show signs of recovery in the last couple of years. During the first few years following the historical handshake between Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on the U.S. White House Lawn, Arafat himself and his wife, Sulha (a Christian) attended Christmas Eve midnight masses held in the Church of the Nativity. That all changed following the start of the Second Intifada when Arafat became a virtual prisoner in his West Bank Ramallah. headquarters.

To make matters worse, the Palestinian Authority has now been split into two parts, one in Gaza and under the control of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, and the other in the West Bank under the control of P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas. Following some improvement in relations between Israel and Abbas’ Palestinian segment, tourism to Bethlehem has begun to improve, much to the relief of Bethlehem’s merchants, many of whom have shops in the center of town not far from Manger Square. Many of the items they sell are exclusively tailored for foreign Christian pilgrims including religious motifs carved from olive wood, jewelry and amulets, carpets and clothing with religious and other logos and slogans connected with the historical legend of the town. As Christmas is the most important time of the year for them, Bethlehem merchants have to bank heavily on a large influx of visitors to tide them through the lean months until summer when tourism again picks up for a while.

For those who want to purchase them, Palestinian flags, pictures of P.A. Authority and Charismatic Arab World leaders, and other nationalistic mementoes are also available.

One of the better hotels in Bethlehem, the Jacir Palace Intercontinental, reported that they are nearly full for the first time in years. “Yes, thank God, we have something to smile about this year”, said Farid, one of the hotel’s reception employees. Concerning what will be happening in the future, “it’s anybody’s guess” said Samir, another hotel employee. And rightly so, as current fighting between Israeli and Palestinian forces in Gaza could well spill over into the West Bank, including Bethlehem. Although the city of Christ’s birth has had fewer problems than other West Bank cities, including Ramallah, Nablus, and Jenin, the situation there during the period immediately after the uprising in September, 2000 was very unpleasant, and the Church of the Nativity suffered considerable damage in the wake of its takeover by Palestinian militants.

Israeli border checkpoints have tried to make it easier for pilgrims to come and go this year as a good will gesture to President Abbas. Still, it isn’t like walking into the Old City in Jerusalem, which for many pilgrims has been an alternative Christmas season destination following the 2000 Palestinian uprising.

In any event, Christmas 2007 does seem to be much better for the citizens of Bethlehem, and is much improved over previous years. And for those who so much depend on this annual inflow of visitors, and foreign currency, they can only hope for the best.

Shimon Peres Becomes Israel’s 9th President

Katzav, Gila & Peres
In a ceremony fraught with pageantry and fanfare, Former Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres was sworn in July 15 as the 9th President of the State of Israel. In a moving Knesset ceremony, Peres took the oath of what is usually a largely ceremonial position similar to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth. In his acceptance speech afterwards, however, Peres (who usually loves to be in the center of governmental goings-on) indicated that his term of office will be anything but ceremonial, with the new president volunteering to go on various peace missions on the government’s behalf.

Despite his advanced age (83) Peres seems to be in excellent health, and loves to travel abroad and hobnob with foreign government leaders and other dignitaries. This means that he may become the county’s first globe trotting President and will undoubtedly not wait even for the paint on the door of his new office in Beit Hanasi to dry before he leaves on his first international assignment; most likely to either the USA or the UK – both favorite destinations for a man who has literally been in nearly every major world capital, including Olso Norway, where he jointly accepted the Nobel Peace Price in 1994, along with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat.

After nearly 50 years of governmental and political activities, Peres has finally found a position that most suits his wide and diversified career in public life. In a way it’s a shame he didn’t have this opportunity seven years ago when he barely lost out to Likud political party rival Moshe Katsav, who has now left the presidency in disgrace following his admittance to being involved in a number of incidents of sexual misconduct. Katsav is also being accused of at least two counts of rape, which were dropped by Israel State Prosecutor Manny Mazuz in an effort to keep an already scandalous incident from becoming an embarrassing public trial.

Shimon Peres’ ascension to the presidency will hopefully do much to erase the pall that has been cast on this office by both Katsav and Katsav’s predecessor Ezer Weizman, who wasn’t ashamed to speak his mind; even if his remarks were frequently taken out of context by the press. Peres brings an air of dignity to an office where dignity and protocol are two of the most important aspects. With Peres in this position, not only will he be meeting foreign dignitaries when they arrive in Israel, he himself will be going to meet them on their home ground; where Peres feels as much at home as he does in Jerusalem.

Despite his wife, Sonia being in ill health, Peres will undoubtedly volunteer to be his country’s official peace envoy for as long as he is able to do so. And judging from the current state of affairs that Israel finds itself in, peace is something that Israel sorely needs. If Shimon can make a positive contribution towards this end, his final position in public life will be more than fitting for a man who has dedicated a great deal of his life to the cause of peace.

Moshik has Katsav asking his wife, Gila, how is Peres going to handle the job without his wife…

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