Arab Knesset member Ayman Odeh accused Israel of assassinating former PLO chief Yasser Arafat on Monday, renewing the controversy surrounding the circumstances of the Arab leader’s death.
Odeh, who heads the Joint (Arab) List in the Israeli government, told Channel 2 that Avi Dichter, former head of the Shin Bet and current MK for the Likud party, “sent the people” to assassinate Arafat.
Following challenges by the interviewer that members of Odeh’s party are supportive of terrorism, the MK insisted, “There are heads of the Shin Bet who gave orders to murder the leaders of the Palestinian people.”
He continued, “Take Dichter, for instance, he sent the people who murdered Arafat.”
Arafat passed in 2004 at the age of 75 after suffering a stroke. Israel has long denied any involvement in the leader’s death.
The interview was held to discuss the recent bill proposed by Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu which, if passed, will allow for members of Knesset to remove a colleague for any statements against the Israeli government. Netanyahu initiated the bill after three Arab MKs notoriously met with the families of terrorists who had killed Israelis.
Odeh’s deceitful remarks against Dichter and the Shin Bet are akin to transgressing arguably one of the most pivotal commandments in the Bible: that of purporting slander against fellow man. Psalms 34:14 stresses this point: “Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.”
Accusations of Israel’s role in the matter were proliferated following Arafat’s death. From the time of his passing, Suha, Arafat’s widow, believed Israel was directly responsible. The popular claim was that Israel poisoned Arafat during his stay at Percy Medical Hospital after he was admitted with complaints of stomach pains.
The matter of Arafat’s seemingly suspicious death was analyzed by both the Shin Bet and French investigators. After extensive probing, which involved exhuming Arafat’s body in 2012, no evidence to support the claim that Israel poisoned him was found.
As recently as April 2015, the case was declared ‘closed’ by French prosecutors.