Palestinian officials to visit Arafat

Palestinian leaders are going ahead with a visit to France to see critically ill Palestinian President Yasir Arafat despite a scathing outburst from his wife.

    Suha Arafat: They are trying to bury Abu Ammar alive

    Muhammad Dahlan said on Monday that Prime Minister Ahmad Quraya, Palestinian Liberation Organisation Secretary-General Mahmud Abbas and Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath would leave the West Bank for Jordan on Monday.

    They will head to Paris on Tuesday to visit Arafat, who is critically ill at a French hospital.

    The trio had been expected to arrive in Paris on Monday, but their departure appeared to have been delayed after comments by Arafat's wife Suha in which she accused them of plotting to "bury him alive".

    Earlier reports suggested that the Palestinian officials had scrapped their plans to visit the ailing president.

    "The delegation is not going now," Arafat's bureau chief Tayib Abd al-Rahim told a press conference outside Arafat's Muqataa leadership compound in Ram Allah. "We are trying to convince them to go." 

    French Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie also confirmed that "there are no longer plans that they will come to Paris".

    Wife's comments

    Earlier, Yasir Arafat's wife accused Palestinian leaders of plotting to bury the ailing president alive.

    "I appeal to you to be aware of the scope of the conspiracy," Suha Arafat told Aljazeera.

    "I appeal to you to be aware of the scope of the conspiracy"

    Suha Arafat

    "They are trying to bury Abu Ammar alive," she said, using a nickname for Arafat.

    Her comments flew in the face of efforts by Arafat's lieutenants to project an image of unity and business as usual at a time when many Palestinians fear chaos if he dies. 

    "Abu Ammar is well and he is coming back to his homeland," she added without giving any details about his illness.

    She accused the three leaders of being desperate to succeed him. 

    Palestinian officials have privately accused Suha Arafat, who prior to her husband being flown to a Paris military hospital on 29 October had not seen him for three years, of limiting access to and information about the veteran leader. 

    Hamas statements

    The ailing president has been
    diagnosed with liver failure

    Speaking to Aljazeera, Fawzi Barhum, Hamas spokesman, said 

    Suha Arafat had no doubt surprised everybody with her appeal.

    "By doing this she has messed up many things in the Palestinian cause," said Barhum. 

    "We do not know the reason behind her accusations," he said

    "We reject introducing internal conflicts into the Palestinian cause, as it cannot tolerate any more contradictions," he added.

    Palestinian symbol

    Arafat, for decades a symbol of the Palestinian struggle for a
    state and against Israeli occupation, is suffering from liver
    failure and his health is not improving, one official said. 

    An Israeli newspaper's website said the "working assumption" among Israeli security officials preparing for Arafat's death was that any life support equipment would be shut down on Tuesday. 


    "Suha does not want the Palestinian leaders to come to visit Arafat," one Palestinian official said before her Aljazeera interview was broadcast.

    "Talks are going on and it's not clear when the leaders will come to Paris." 

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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