Image: Late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat before his death in 2004.
Nasser Shiyoukhi  /  AP file
Late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat before his death in 2004.
updated 9/8/2005 6:57:15 AM ET 2005-09-08T10:57:15

Yasser Arafat’s medical records do not give conclusive results regarding what caused his death, The New York Times and Haaretz newspapers reported Thursday, prompting Palestinian officials to call for the publication of the records.

The reports were the first based on the actual medical records since Arafat died in a Paris hospital on Nov. 11 after falling ill in his West Bank compound a month earlier. Arafat’s widow, Suha Arafat, and other relatives have kept the records secret since his death.

A stroke was the final blow that killed Arafat, but it is not clear what disease or illness led to a deterioration in his health, The New York Times concluded in its report. The records show, according to independent experts who studied them, that Arafat’s symptoms make it highly unlikely that he died of AIDS or poisoning, the newspaper said.

But Palestinian doctors continue to insist that he was poisoned, The Times reported.

'It is impossible to pinpoint a cause '
While the Israeli Haaretz daily cites experts as saying that Arafat died of AIDS, poisoning or an illness, it points out that the medical report states that “a discussion among a large number of medical experts ... shows that it is impossible to pinpoint a cause that will explain the combination of symptoms that led to the death of the patient.”

Arafat’s personal doctor, Ashraf al-Kurdi, who did not treat Arafat in his final weeks, said that he knows French doctors found the AIDS virus in Arafat’s blood, Haaretz reported. The virus given to Arafat by Israel was used to disguise poisoning, the paper quoted him as saying.

A senior Palestinian official, Saeb Erekat, said he had not seen the records but had been told by many doctors that it was still not clear what caused Arafat’s death. Erekat said he had not heard any proof that Arafat had AIDS or had been poisoned.

“The French report did not indicate any of these things,” Erekat said Thursday. “The family should ask the French doctors to publicize this and put an end to all these allegations and rumors.”

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s office called the accusations that Israel infected Arafat with AIDS or poisoned him “nonsense,” Haaretz said.

Two Israeli reporters obtained the medical reports from a senior Palestinian official and provided them to The Times. The American paper conducted its own independent investigation into the report, The Times said.

The stroke that caused Arafat’s death resulted from a bleeding disorder caused by an unknown infection, The Times said.

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