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Were the Oslo Accords good for the Palestinians?


Was Yasser Arafat poisoned?
Uri Avnery Social activist
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Arik [Ariel Sharon] has used us to explain to his supporters why he didn’t kill Arafat. He said, ‘There were Israelis there and if I had done something they would have been killed’. But that was an excuse. I think, like I said, he had received instructions from the Americans that he should not do anything that would leave a trace. That meant definitely no military attack. In my opinion − which is unsubstantiated − I think in the end Arik managed to kill Arafat with radioactive poison, using a collaborator, during one of his meals. Arafat at that time would have meals for all of his visitors. If a delegation of distinguished guests would come to him he liked to dine with them and, in fact, he had no means of protection. In all the years that I knew Arafat I was always surprised about the really ineffective security measures around him. He was never really protected like the Prime Minister of Israel is protected, for example. So someone penetrated this armour, probably one of his assistants, probably someone who dined at his table, because he had a taster who tasted what he ate and they did know that someone else had been killed. So I was at Arafat's funeral. I went there with Rachel, and there was a gun salute fired into the air. Rachel was terribly afraid of these shots into the air. There was a huge crowd and we found a sort of hillock and we positioned ourselves on it and Raymonda Tawil joined us – from whom I received a message yesterday by email from Malta – and Padwa, something like that, the wife of Marwan Barghouti. So there were the four of us − Rachel, I and these two women. Raymonda cried a river of tears, and they buried him. Distinguished guests went in to offer their condolences; I didn’t go in. And then there was a memorial service on the 40th day. Arabs have a memorial service on the 40th day. I was there. There was a high-ranking Egyptian emissary there. I went up to Abu Mazen who introduced me to the guest, but Abu Mazen and I never established the same kind of personal relationship that there had been between Arafat and myself, primarily because he is a very introverted person, and completely lacks the warmth that Arafat exuded to those around him. I think that the slander against him is no more correct than the slander about Arafat. I think that he is loyal to Arafat, faithful to the policy set by Arafat.

אריק השתמש בנו כדי להסביר לתומכיו למה הוא לא הרג את ערפאת. הוא אמר "היו שם ישראלים ואם הייתי עושה משהו הם היו גם נהרגים”. אבל זה היה תירוץ. אני חושב שהוא כאמור קיבל הוראה מהאמריקאים שאסור לו לעשות את זה בצורה שתשאיר עקבות. זאת אומרת בשום פנים לא התקפה צבאית. ולדעתי, הבלתי מוכחת, אני חושב שבסוף הוא הצליח להרוג אותו ברעל רדיואקטיבי בעזרת משת"פ באחת הארוחות. ערפאת אז ערך ארוחות לכל האורחים שלו. אם באה אליו משלחת של אורחים מכובדים, הוא אהב לסעוד בחברתם ולמעשה לא היו לו שום אמצעי הגנה. כל השנים שהכרתי את ערפאת, אני תמיד תמהתי על אמצעי הבטחון הממש לא יעילים. הוא אף פעם לא היה מוגן באמת כמו שראש ממשלת ישראל מוגן למשל. אז מישהו חדר את השיריון הזה, בטח אחד העוזרים שלו, כנראה אחד שסעד על שולחנו מפני שהיה לו טועם שטעם את מה שהוא אכל ולא ידוע שאדם אחר נהרג. אז הייתה ההלוויה של ערפאת, הלכתי לשם עם רחל, וירו באוויר. רחל נורא פחדה. היריות האלה באוויר. היה המון עצום ומצאנו איזושהי גבעונת כזאת שהתמקמנו עליה והצטרפו אלינו ריימונדה טאוויל, שממנה קיבלתי אתמול מסר באימייל, ממלטה, וגם אשתו של מרוואן ברגותי ששמה פאדווה, משהו כזה. אז היינו ארבעה – רחל, אני ושתי הנשים האלה. ריימונדה בכתה, נשפך ממנה נהר של דמעות, וקברנו אותו. האורחים המכובדים נכנסו להביע תנחומים, אני לא נכנסתי. ואחר-כך הייתה האזכרה ביום ה-40. אצל הערבים יש אזכרה ביום ה-40. הייתי שם. היה שם שליח מצרי רם-דרג. ניגשתי לאבו מאזן, אבו הציג אותי בפני האורח, אבל בין אבו מאזן וביני אף פעם לא נוצר אותו יחס אישי שהיה בין ערפאת וביני. קודם כל מפני שהוא אדם מאוד מכונס, וחסר לגמרי אותו חום שערפאת הפיץ סביבו. אני חושב שההשמצות עליו לא יותר נכונות מההשמצות שהיו על ערפאת. אני חושב שהוא נאמן לערפאת, נאמן לקו שקבע ערפאת.‏

Uri Avnery (1923-2018) was an Israeli writer, journalist and founder of the Gush Shalom peace movement. As a teenager, he joined the Zionist paramilitary group, Irgun. Later, Avnery was elected to the Knesset from 1965 to 1974 and from 1979 to 1981. He was also the editor-in-chief of the weekly news magazine, 'HaOlam HaZeh' from 1950 until it closed in 1993. He famously crossed the lines during the Siege of Beirut to meet Yasser Arafat on 3 July 1982, the first time the Palestinian leader ever met with an Israeli. Avnery was the author of several books about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including '1948: A Soldier's Tale, the Bloody Road to Jerusalem' (2008); 'Israel's Vicious Circle' (2008); and 'My Friend, the Enemy' (1986).

Listeners: Anat Saragusti

Anat Saragusti is a film-maker, book editor and a freelance journalist and writer. She was a senior staff member at the weekly news magazine Ha'olam Hazeh, where she was prominent in covering major events in Israel. Uri Avnery was the publisher and chief editor of the Magazine, and Saragusti worked closely with him for over a decade. With the closing of Ha'olam Hazeh in 1993, Anat Saragusti joined the group that established TV Channel 2 News Company and was appointed as its reporter in Gaza. She later became the chief editor of the evening news bulletin. Concurrently, she studied law and gained a Master's degree from Tel Aviv University.

Tags: Ariel Sharon, Yasser Arafat, Raymonda Tawil, Abu Mazen

Duration: 4 minutes, 39 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 26 June 2017