JERUSALEM (AP) — Top Palestinian officials abruptly
canceled a trip to Paris yesterday to check on ailing leader Yasser
Arafat after critical comments by Arafat’s wife, a spokesman
Tayeb Abdel Rahim, a senior Arafat aide, said the critical
comments by Suha Arafat “don’t represent our
Rahim spoke after Mrs. Arafat lashed out at Arafat’s
lieutenants in a telephone call to the pan-Arab Al-Jazeera
television station, accusing the Palestinian leadership of
traveling to Paris with plans to bury her husband
Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia, former Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas
and Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath had announced Sunday that they
would travel to Paris to consult with Arafat’s doctors.
Qureia and Abbas — Arafat’s deputy in the Palestine
Liberation Organization — have been working together to run
Palestinian affairs in Arafat’s absence and to prevent chaos
and violence if the Palestinian leader dies. Qureia has taken on
some of Arafat’s executive and security powers, while Abbas
has been chairing meetings of the PLO’s executive body.
Suha Arafat insisted her husband is “all right” and
accused the Palestinian officials of conspiring to usurp the
75-year-old leader’s power.
Screaming in the phone call to Al-Jazeera, she said, “a
bunch of those who want to inherit are coming to Paris tomorrow.
… You have to realize the size of the conspiracy. I tell you
they are trying to bury Abu Ammar alive,” she said, using the
name by which Arafat is widely known.
“He is all right and he is going home. God is
great,” she added.
Suha Arafat, who lives in Paris and had not seen her husband for
more than three years, has controlled the flow of information over
his illness and has kept all but a handful of Palestinians away
from his bedside — arousing resentment back home.
She also is widely believed to have control of vast amounts of
“She is not part of the Palestinian leadership,”
Arafat security adviser Jibril Rajoub told Israel’s Channel
Two TV on Sunday.
Arafat’s illness remained a mystery Sunday, his fifth day
in intensive care at a French military hospital amid contradictory
reports on whether he is in a coma.