Update on Yasser
He’s still dead, but his wife Suha’s acussing Palestinian leaders on Monday of plotting to “bury him alive,” but they decided to go ahead with a visit to the critically ill Palestinian president at a French military hospital. When it comes to that visit, according to DEBKAfile, there’s also consideration as to France’s role in the Middle East:
Palestinian officials may travel to Paris, put up at smart hotels and report back home that Arafat is coming along well. But it will be hearsay. They will not be allowed to see him. Abu Rodeina will not doubt phone Ramallah and the Gaza Strip from time to time with “orders” from the boss which no Palestinian official will dare disobey as long as they are in the dark about his real condition. They will wait for a death certificate to prove he is not about to turn up and demand an accounting for their disobedience.
The current situation is therefore uncertain and extremely volatile. All that can be said for the moment is:
1. Israel may have had little choice, but it has lost points by relinquishing the limited intelligence control it maintained over Arafat’s actions in Ramallah and handing it over to France.
2. France is well seasoned in manipulating foreign political figures, often haven-seekers, to serve French diplomatic, military and intelligence interests. One example is Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini who lived in exile in a small town near Paris for most of the 1970s disseminating propaganda materials for inciting revolution against the Shah of Iran. In 1979, Khomeini landed in Tehran aboard a French plane and led the Islamic revolution that toppled the ruler and put an end to US-Israeli influence in Iran.
3. By taking charge of the symbol and inventor of the Palestinian national struggle, the French government has also taken a lead-position in European policymaking on Israel, the Palestinians and the conflict between them. Considering the Chirac government’s warm sympathy for the Arabs and the Palestinian cause and its friendly ties with Iran, Syria and the Hizballah, this is not exactly good news for Israel.
4. Since early 2002, the French President has consistently taken a collision course against President George W. Bush over his Middle East policies and posture, especially on Iraq and the Palestinians. Arafat in the care of the French government grants Chirac a new and sharp tool for hurting Israel’s interests and crossing the Washington that refused to do business with the discredited Palestinian leader
According to another DEBKA report,
Christian Estripeau, spokesman of the French military health services, informed Mrs. Arafat that he would issue no more bulletins on Arafat’s condition; neither would Percy hospital. She was given to understand that the hospital had kept her husband artificially alive as long as it intended to. The conversation followed a decision by a top-level conference of French officials, attended also by the president, to disengage from the pretence that Arafat was still alive. They realized it was no longer tenable without compromising the military hospital’s ethical position and medical credibility.
They also decided to settle the Arafat problem before November 12, because that is when Ramadan ends with “Orphan’s Friday” and moves into the three-day Eid al Fitr festival, during which no business of any kind can be contracted with Muslim authorities. If the Palestinian leader can be buried by Wednesday or Thursday, the French government reckons, the days of mourning can be wound up in time for Muslims to celebrate the festival and get started on the post-Arafat era.
Howwever, French efforts to unload Arafat by mid-week have been stymied by the lack of any accredited authority willing and able to organize the funeral or even determine the Palestinian leader’s final burial place.
Also in DEBKAfile: “Arafat’s wife Suha will demand Abbas and Qureia sign documents drafted by her French lawyers guaranteeing her multimillion dollar inheritance and pension – as price for switching off life support systems. She has controlled information on Arafat’s condition and nature of mystery illness.”
Don’t miss (in Spanish) (via Desde Sefarad) Anclao en París: Réquiem Preventivo a un Mártir Fiero a funerary oration.