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Palestine leaders scrap plans to visit Arafat

RAMALLAH, West Bank—Three of Yasser Arafat’s top lieutenants have shelved plans to visit the ailing Palestinian leader in a Paris hospital Monday, the head of Arafat’s office, Tayib Abdelrahim, said.

The decision by Prime Minister Ahmed Qorei, acting Palestine Liberation Organization Chair Mahmud Abbas and Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath came after Arafat’s wife accused the trio of wanting to bury her husband alive.

“The delegation are not going now,” Ab­delrahim told a press conference. “We are trying to convince them to go.”

Arafat’s wife Suha told Al Jazeera television that three of his top lieutenants “want to bury Arafat alive” to inherit his power.

“Abu Ammar [Arafat] is doing well and will return home,” but “Abbas, Qorei and Shaath, who are trying to inherit his power, want to bury Arafat alive,” Suha told the Doha-based Arabic language satellite channel.

In an “appeal” to the Palestinian people, Suha Arafat said, “A handful of [people] seeking to inherit power are coming to Paris to try and bury Abu Ammar alive. I ask you to look at the extent of the plot.”

Mrs. Arafat was speaking from the Percy military hospital where her husband, whose nom de guerre is Abu Ammar, has been fighting for life since October 29.

A member of the PLO executive committee had said that Qorei and Abbas were making the trip as they were frustrated at the lack of information on the state of Arafat’s health.

Arafat suffered liver failure, a Palestinian official said on Sunday.

Looking ahead to life without the 75-year-old Arafat, his subordinates in the West Bank decided to carry out a plan to restore law and order to the Palestinian territories. It was the first major decision they had announced since Arafat left.

“He has liver failure. His condition is not improving,” a Palestinian official in the West Bank said.

Arafat’s top lieutenants—former Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, who is Arafat’s deputy in the Palestine Liberation Organization, Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia and Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath—are working to set up contingency plans in the event of Arafat’s death. His deteriorating health has also prompted a dispute over a possible burial site.
— AFP, AP, Reuters

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