Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s death unclear

The publication of Yasser Arafat's medical records Thursday failed to offer a clear reason for the cause of his death.

The records, compiled by French doctors who treated the Palestinian leader in the final days of his life last November, say he died from a stroke resulting from a bleeding disorder that was caused by an unknown infection.

Many Palestinians believe Arafat's death was unnatural and that he was probably poisoned by the Israelis. There has also been speculation that his illness shared characteristics with Aids.

Doctors who examined the records - which have remained private until now - on behalf of the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz and the New York Times come to contradictory conclusions.

Some point out that the French medical team found no traces of any known poison. Others say a poison could have been excreted, masked by something else or not be known to the doctors.

Israel had stated its desire to kill Arafat, although it denies any involvement in his death.

Ashraf al-Kurdi, Arafat's personal physician, told Haaretz he had been informed by French doctors that Arafat had Aids when he died, although he had tested negative for HIV three months before his death. Aids is not mentioned in the final report. The physician's theory is that Arafat was infected with HIV to mask the poison that killed him, according to Guardian.

The doctors interviewed by the New York Times suggest that the pattern of Arafat's illness was not similar to Aids, but an Israeli doctor asked why the French had tested for every substance and ailment except Aids.

Dr Kurdi said the only way to ascertain the true cause of death would be a postmortem examination. Arafat's widow, Suha, has prevented this.

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