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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 September 2005, 10:16 GMT 11:16 UK
Cause of Arafat death 'unknown'
Yasser Arafat
Many Palestinians believe Arafat was poisoned
Medical records of former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat appear to show that doctors could not determine the underlying cause of his death.

The records, obtained by the New York Times newspaper, say that Arafat died from a stroke that stemmed from an unknown condition.

But Israeli newspaper Haaretz says the records point to him dying from poisoning, Aids or an infection.

Yasser Arafat died on 11 November 2004 at a French military hospital.

Both newspapers say the records, which have been withheld by senior Palestinian officials and Mr Arafat's widow until now, show that doctors could not agree on the cause of the 75-year-old's death.

Conflicting reports

The New York Times says the records show that it was highly unlikely that Mr Arafat died from poisoning or Aids.

"There are three possible causes of death: infection from a germ that poisoned the blood, Aids or poisoning
Israeli author Avi Isacharov
It reported that the actual infection that led to the stroke that caused late Palestinian leaders death was still a mystery.

The Haaretz report cites an Israeli Aids experts as saying that many of Mr Arafat's symptoms were typical of the disease.

Another senior Israeli doctor quoted by Haaretz describes the death as "a classic case of food poisoning."

Speculation

Mr Arafat's medical records are set to be published in an Israeli book next week.

"There are three possible causes of death: infection from a germ that poisoned the blood, Aids or poisoning from a dinner at his Ramallah headquarters on October 12, 2004," Avi Isacharov, one of the book's authors, told the AFP news agency.

Speculation on the cause of Arafat's death has continued with many Palestinians believing that he was poisoned by Israel.

Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom denied any Israeli involvement in the former Palestinian leader's death.

"The time has come for the Palestinians to put an end to this conspiracy theory. This new theory that Israel is responsible for the death of Arafat is absolutely nonsense," he said.

Yasser Arafat's nephew, Palestinian Foreign Minister Nasser al-Kidwa, has said the late Palestinian leader's medical file does not allay suspicions that he may have died of "unnatural causes".

But senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said the French doctors should publish their report in full to put an end to the rumours.




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