Russia helping on Arafat exhumation Abbas

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His comments were the first time Palestinian officials have said that Russia is involved in the new investigation into Arafat’s death.

“We hope for new facts that we can tell our people and the public,” Abbas said, adding that the investigation was “bigger and more important” that the “media uproar” created by media analysis into Arafat’s death.

French prosecutors opened a murder inquiry in August after Swiss experts said they had found high levels of radioactive polonium on Arafat’s personal effects.

A French team is due to arrive in Ramallah on Nov. 26 to begin work on exhuming the body, Palestinian sources told AFP last month, adding that Swiss experts would arrive at the same time for an operation that could take “several weeks or a month.”

Polonium is a highly toxic substance rarely found outside military and scientific circles.

It was used to kill former Russian spy turned Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko, who died in 2006 in London shortly after drinking tea laced with the poison.

The French murder inquiry was opened in late August at the request of Arafat’s widow Suha, who had refused to give her permission for an autopsy at the time of his death.

This week, Nasser al-Qidwa, Arafat’s nephew and the head of the Yasser Arafat Foundation, repeated his “opposition in principle” to an exhumation, “primarily because samples collected after eight years may not be clinically exploitable.”

“Every Palestinian is convinced that Arafat was murdered,” he told AFP, “but even opening his tomb won’t convince the skeptics of the truth.”

A Swiss laboratory team has arrived earlier this month in the West Bank city of Ramallah to prepare for the exhumation of former Palestinian president Yasser Arafat.

The team, along with French investigators, has been expected to participate in Arafat’s exhumation on Nov. 26, as part of a new investigation into the circumstances of the late leader’s 2004 death.

The West Bank holds a series of events on Sunday as it marks Arafat’s anniversary, including candlelit vigils for the iconic leader.

In Gaza, local members of Arafat’s Fatah movement said the ruling Hamas movement was preventing them for participating in ceremonies to mark the late president’s death.

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