RAMALLAH ø The Palestinian Authority plans to battle the wife of
Yasser Arafat for control of his fortune, estimated at $3 billion.
Arafat has been reported variously as dead, clinically dead, brain dead, in a coma, and on the road to recovery since last Thursday.
PA officials said the Palestinian leadership has decided to locate and
seize Arafat's bank accounts, which they said contain at least $1
billion in foreign aid meant for the Palestinian people. They said the PA
has rejected Suha Arafat's efforts to help appoint Arafat's successor and inherit
her husband's assets.
The officials said Mrs. Arafat has been pressing Arafat's financial adviser,
Mohammed Rashid, for information on her husband's secret bank accounts in
Switzerland. But Rashid was said to have refused, saying he would provide
this information to the Palestinian leadership.
Over the weekend, senior PA officials concluded that
Arafat was brain dead, Middle East Newsline reported. They said they had obtained information from
Egypt and France that Arafat's heart was operating through life-support
"Mrs. Suha Arafat does not represent our people or our leadership,"
PA secretary-general Tayeb Abdul Rahim said. "Had the president ø may God
heal and cure him ø heard such words, he would be totally rejecting them,
and would not be allowing them at all."
Abdul Rahim was referring to Mrs. Arafat's accusation that a planned
visit by a PA delegation to France was meant to "bury" Arafat. Suha said.
Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei, PLO Executive Council secretary Mahmoud Abbas
and International Cooperation Minister Nabil Shaath were conspiring against
"Those with honor among the Palestinians must know that a cadre of those
who wish to inherit will visit Paris tomorrow to try to bury Abu Amar
[Arafat] while he's still alive," Mrs. Arafat said in an interview broadcast
on Monday on the Qatari-based A-Jazeera satellite television. "I ask you to
understand the magnitude of the conspiracy. I say to you, they want to bury
Abu Amar while he's still alive. Abu Amar is fine. He's going to return
[On Tuesday, Palestinian insurgents fired four mortars into Israeli
communities in the Gaza Strip and a Kassam missile into Israel. Later,
Israeli authorities reported that the Syrian-aligned Popular Front for the
Liberation of Palestine sought to bomb the French embassy in Tel Aviv last
The PA delegation was meant to have flown to Paris on Monday to consult
with French government leaders regarding Arafat's condition. PA officials
said Abbas and Qurei decided on the trip in wake of what they termed
were false reports by Mrs. Arafat that her husband was alive and in stable
"It's an absurd situation that Suha is sitting there and deciding when,
how and who," Sufian Abu Zaida, a senior PA official, said. "This is the job
of the Palestinian leadership."
After a one-day delay, the PA delegation arrived in Paris and on Tuesday
met French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier and French President Jacques
Chirac. Officials said the delegation sought to win French agreement to
declare Arafat dead over the next two days.
On Tuesday, Percy hospital reported that Arafat had fallen into a deep
coma overnight. In the first statement since last week, the hospital said.
Arafat's health has worsened and this "marks a significant step towards a
development whose prognosis cannot yet be determined."
"We are confident with good news," Shaath said. "But we want to come
back with facts."