Former Palestinian President Yasser Arafat died of AIDS, a rival Palestinian leader has claimed in an interview.
Ahmad Jibril, the founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, was quoted by the New York Daily News as saying that he received confirmation of this from Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and his staff.
Jibril said that earlier he had suspected that Israel had poisoned Arafat, who was being treated in Paris for a complex blood disorder, but when he met Abbas and his aides in Damascus, they told him that the French gave them a medical report that stated that the cause of Arafat's death was AIDS.
Jibril added in the interview that Abbas and every other member of Arafat's Fatah party "should be happy that we got rid of the plague, which had been imposed upon them. ... The Fatah movement now has an opportunity to renew itself."
A spokesman at the Palestinian Authority in Washington declined to comment on Jibril's claim. One senior Palestinian diplomat said Jibril never liked Arafat, so "whatever he says about him is questionable."
There is no mention of AIDS in Arafat's final medical records. Doctors who examined them in 2005 told The New York Times that the pattern of Arafat's illness was inconsistent with that of a typical AIDS patient. But Ashraf al-Kurdi, Arafat's personal physician, claimed in an Israeli newspaper that French doctors had told him Arafat had AIDS when he died.
The physician, who said Arafat had tested HIV-negative three months earlier, suspected Arafat was infected with HIV to hide the poison that supposedly killed him.