Yasir Arafat has been dead for almost eight years, and yet his ghost is threatening to start a third intifada on Israel's West Bank. A recent Al Jazeera investigation into Arafat's death in November, 2004 has revealed that significant traces of polonium 210 were found on Arafat's belongings and in his bodily fluids. His widow has requested an autopsy and samples of his tissues will be taken for further testing.
If confirmed, the assassination of Yasir Arafat would be a first, occurring two years before the famous London assassination ofAlexander Litvinenko by the Russians. What is significant about both is the use of this extremely rare and toxic radioactive isotope. Inducing flulike symptoms at first, it eventually leads to a slow but sure death that cannot be diagnosed by physicians. Most significantly, PO 210 can only be manufactered by a government that has access to an isotope breeding atomic reactor.
A little historical background is in order. Even former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben Avi credits Arafat with starting the two state peace process that President Clinton attempted to implement in his last days in office in 2000. The failure of the Camp David talks led to the second intifada on the West Bank and Gaza and was ultimately triggered when Ariel Sharon violated Muslim space on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem with a phalanx of security guards.
Sharon also started actively promoting regime change within the PLO, seeing Arafat as the source of all problems in Israel in achieving total hegemony in the area. Eventually a more compliant Mahmoud Abbas was installed in the government, but Arafat survived in the West Bank city of Ramallah under Israeli seige. Tanks destroyed PLO headquarters and relegated Arafat to a two room apartment surrounded by rubble. But Arafat still survived and wielded power.
The Israeli government ratcheted up its regime change strategy, and Israeli governmental officials more or less openly called for Arafat's assassination. In a 2004 interview, Prime Minister Sharon stated that previous assurances of protection to Arafat were no longer operational.
I don't think I could be any clearer than I already have been. I am free from that obligation. I have freed myself from that obligation to Arafat.
Minister of Communications and future Prime Minister Ehud Ohlmert was even more blunt:
We'll have to focus on the murders and those who inspire the murders and orchestrate operations, and if necessary to get rid of them. Arafat is not excluded.
It is believed on October 12, 2004 a trusted aide of Arafat slipped a microscopic bit of polonium 21o into Arafat's food that led to his demise despite the intervention of over 50 physicians from Palestine, Tunisia, and France.
I had stated before that I assessed the prospects of a third intifada at 70% this year. If a third intifada does develop it will come at the worst possible time for Israel, as its neighbors are in a greater foment than perhaps any time since 1967. Syria and Lebanon are in the state of some kind of civil war. Egypt and Jordan are grappling with continuing aftereffects of the Arab Spring. Israel's vulnerablity to West Bank and Gaza unrest could expose itself to Hezbollah rocket attacks as a sympathetic gesture, and because of this, Israel has been threatening yet another invasion of Lebanon if new rocket barrages from Lebanon fall on Tel Aviv.
The whole situation is extremely uncertain, but one thing is known. If conflict occurs, it will occur squarely because of Israel's machinations to effect regime change by exotic assassination of a Palestinian leader.