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‘Arafat poisoned’ report may hamper Abbas in talks with Israel

08/11/2013

Swiss laboratory results suggesting that deceased Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat died of polonium poisoning are unlikely to stir a wave of violence in the Palestinian territories, Israeli experts said on Thursday, though they will likely hamper efforts by PA President Mahmoud Abbas to conduct peace talks with Israel.

“Dead people don’t carry much weight, and Arafat has been dead for ten years,” Hillel Frisch, an expert in Palestinian politics at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar Ilan University told The Times of Israel.
Despite his status as father of Palestinian nationhood, Arafat was disliked by most segments of his society, Frisch said. As a result, Israel could expect little more than sporadic demonstrations or stone throwing on the Palestinian street in protest of his alleged poisoning.

“He’s a very controversial figure,” Frisch said. “Among supporters of Hamas there was no love for him, and Palestinian liberals and reformists considered him a dubious character.”

The Palestinian Authority remained largely mum following a dramatic expose on Al Jazeera America Wednesday claiming — based on a Swiss forensic report — that the radioactive substance Polonium found in Yasser Arafat’s bones was at least 18 times the normal level.

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