This is what transpired in October 2004. IDF intelligence received news regarding severe deterioration in the physical health of the head of the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Arafat. The initial assessments discussed that it was due to flu complications exacerbated by poor sanitation conditions in the section of the Mukataa governmental building in Ramallah where Arafat was besieged, surrounded by IDF forces.
While the Second Intifada had begun to fade in those days, Yasser Arafat remained a form of serious trouble. The IDF allowed for the constant supply of food to Arafat, a few people with him, and the order was that he was not to be released from the siege.
At that time, Israeli lawyer Dov Weissglass, then the head of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's bureau, received a phone call from the Spanish diplomat Javier Solana, then in charge of foreign and defense matters for the European Union. Solana, who was in touch with senior Palestinian Authority officials, asked that Yasser Arafat be approved for urgent medical treatment (he was examined in Ramallah by doctors from Jordan, Egypt, and Tunisia), and a follow-up request arrived very quickly: release Arafat from the siege and allow him to receive medical treatment in Europe.
Major General Aharon Ze’evi Farkash, then the head of the IDF’s Directorate of Military Intelligence, emphatically opposed this. The IDF’s assessment was that Arafat’s life was not facing a genuine danger and that the real purpose was to extract him from the siege, allow him to renew his political efforts, and carry out activities to bring the dying Intifada back to life.
Prime Minister Sharon debated whether or not to answer Solana’s request when a conversation took place that tilted the balance – a senior Palestinian Authority official spoke with Weissglass and told him that "Arafat only had a few weeks left to live. If he dies in the Mukataa, you will be perceived as responsible for his death, and that death will haunt you as the way the Christians have been blaming you for killing Jesus for 2,000 years.”
The Prime Minister’s bureau also consulted with a senior doctor at the Shiba Hopital in Israel, who also assessed that Arafat was suffering from flu complications. Sharon decided to allow Arafat’s leave in order to undergo treatments at a hospital in France. Major General Yoav Galant, the military secretary, was angry over the decision, but conveyed the message to the IDF: the Prime Minister gave the order – let him out.
So what happened in France? Here’s another exposé. Arafat arrived on October 29 in serious condition. According to the information that reached few Israeli officials, and is revealed here for the first time, he suffered from complications stemming from leukemia. It’s possible that the publications that said he was suffering from AIDS were correct and it's possible they weren't – this writer has no conclusive information on that issue. What was known among those at the top of Israel’s defense echelon was that Arafat’s condition had begun to improve at the French hospital. Then, according to Israeli sources, the French doctors performed a dramatic measure – a full body blood transfusion. The process put Arafat in a state of shock and into a coma, one from which he never recovered. He died on November 11, 2004, and was transferred for burial to Ramallah.
What of the investigation being published by the Al Jazeera news network this week, which claims that Arafat was poisoned by Israel? It’s a collection of details, some of which might be true, but together create a completely groundless picture. The details being revealed here for the first time are based on sources that had first-hand knowledge of the full situational picture, and which do not hold any official public position today.
Why has Israel not bothered to officially refute the rumors of Yasser Arafat’s poisoning all these years? Because it had no interest in sustaining rumors as though the Mossad’s long reach made its way into Arafat’s circulatory system as well. Why have the French kept silent about it? Allegedly because of patient confidentiality of the deceased, but also because the true story reveals the fact that the direct cause of Arafat’s death was the medical treatment he was given. Lastly, why have the heads of the Palestinian Authority and the widow, Suha Arafat, kept quiet until this week’s investigation? Because they knew the truth all along, and they know it just as well today.