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Arabs back international probe into Arafat poison claim

media Yasser Arafat, speaking in 2001at the WEF Remy Steinegger/Wikimedia Commons

Arab officials meeting in Doha have approved an international probe into Yasser Arafat's death in 2004, after a recent report which said he might have been poisoned.

Palestinian official Saeb Erakat said the Arab League's Peace Initiative Committee backed the idea of an international investigative commission, proposed by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in Doha on Sunday night.

Earlier this month an investigation by the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera news channel found elevated levels of the radioactive substance polonium on some of Arafat's belongings, reviving suspicions that the veteran leader may have been poisoned.

"We want the commission to be of high credibility," said Erakat, adding that it might need a "resolution from the UN Security Council."

The Institute for Radiation Physics in Switzerland, which analysed biological samples taken from Arafat's personal effects, found "an abnormal quantity" of polonium on his effects, Al-Jazeera said.

Abbas and Arafat's widow, Suha, have reportedly already given their consent for samples to be taken from the Palestinian leader’s remains, which are buried in a mausoleum in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Last week, Suha Arafat's lawyer said that she will launch legal action in France over the claims.

Arafat's nephew Nasser al-Qidwa has accused Israel of poisoning the veteran leader and called for those responsible to be held accountable.

Polonium is a highly toxic substance which is rarely found outside military and scientific circles, and was used to kill former Russian spy turned Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko, who died in 2006 shortly after drinking tea laced with the poison.



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