The Associated Press has reported on Monday that the date has been set, November 26, for the exhumation of late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat’s remains.This follows an investigative report by al-Jazeera correspondent Clay Swisher that brought to light evidence that the late president was poisoned using the radioactive polonium-210 isotope. The investigation, conducted with Arafat’s widow, Suha, found trace amounts of the substance on Arafat’s clothing when the items were tested by a Swiss laboratory.
Many Palestinians had speculated that Arafat had been poisoned due to the rapid deterioration of his health leading up to his death in November 2004.
The exhumation and testing will be conducted in a joint venture between a Swiss team of scientists, who have already arrived in the West Bank, and French investigators.
Concerns have been raised, though, that too much time will have passed to find conclusive evidence in Arafat’s remains due to radioactive deterioration of the material. In the al-Jazeera report, Swiss scientists observed that there was little time remaining to carry out testing as projecting forward from the time period when Arafat would have to have been poisoned, the polonium-210 isotope’s half life showed that any material left in the remains would almost have completely degraded.
Arafat’s body is interred in a mausoleum on the grounds of the Muqataa, the site of the Palestinian Authority’s administrative offices in Ramallah.