Arafat’s wife lashes out at top Palestinian officials
CLAMART, France – Yasser Arafat’s wife lashed out at his top lieutenants today, accusing them of traveling to Paris with plans to “bury” her husband “alive.”
In a screaming telephone call from Arafat’s hospital bedside, Suha Arafat told pan-Arab Al-Jazeera television that she was issuing “an appeal to the Palestinian people.” She accused his top aides, who are traveling to Paris later today, of conspiring to usurp her husband’s four-decade long role as Palestinian leader.
“Let it be known to the honest Palestinian people that a bunch of those who want to take over are coming to Paris tomorrow,” she screamed in Arabic over the telephone.
“You have to realize the size of the conspiracy. I tell you they are trying to bury Abu Ammar alive,” she said, using his nom de guerre. He is all right and he is going home. God is great.”
An Al-Jazeera producer said the broadcaster was confident it was Suha Arafat on the telephone and that she had called their Ramallah office from Arafat’s bedside at a French military hospital.
Despite her insistence that Arafat was fine, French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier on Sunday called the Palestinian leader’s condition “very complex, very serious and stable right now.”
Palestinians have been making contingency plans for the event of his death, and Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia, Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath and Mahmoud Abbas, the former prime minister and deputy chairman of Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization, were due in Paris today to consult with his doctors and French officials.
Some Palestinians have complained that Suha Arafat has gained too much power, as she controls the flow of information about Arafat’s condition and has taken charge of access to the ailing leader.
“She is not part of the Palestinian leadership,” Arafat security adviser Jibril Rajoub told Israel’s Channel Two TV on Sunday.
Suha Arafat, who lives in Paris, has not been to the West Bank or seen her husband since the latest round of Palestinian violence began in 2000.
She also is widely believed to have control of vast amounts of PLO money.