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Head of Arafat Foundation slams Italian weekly that revealed leader's diaries

Palestinians wave yellow Fatah movement flags on top of a building with a huge poster of the late Fatah founder and Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat, during a rally marking the 13th anniversary of his death in Gaza City, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017.
AP Photo/Khalil Hamra
The Italian weekly "L'Espresso" revealed how Arafat accepted bribes from ex Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi

Nasser al-Qudwa, the head of the Yasser Arafat Foundation, issued a statement bashing the Italian weekly "L'Espresso" for publishing extracts from the secret diaries of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who died in 2004.

"The fact that the Espresso journalist admits to not having seen the diaries himself, claiming he received information about it from third parties, raises question marks on the reliability of the report," Nasser al-Qudwa wrote in a statement.

Seemingly contradicting himself, Al-Qudwa claims on the one hand that the extracts were obtained by the magazine "illegally, that is stoled", and on the other that the extracts are "false" and that "no one is in possession of Arafat's notes".

That is, no one by the Arafat Foundation itself, which has been entrusted with preserving the President's notes. "Soon after reviewing the contents of the books and after making the political decision, the contents will be presented to the public," Al-Qudwa announced in the statement.

The "L'Espresso" article published last week revealed, among other things, that Arafat accepted bribes from former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in exchange for assisting him with false testimonies in one of his trials.

The diaries also claimed that Arafat had secret talks with Rabin and that he dismissed Shimon Peres as a "decoration".

Moreover, the extracts published by "L'Espresso" shed new light on the hijacking of an Italian cruise ship in 1985 – an episode known as the Achille Lauro incident from the name of the boat.

In another passage of the diary reported in "L'Espresso", Arafat is said to have begged Saddam Hussein not to invade Kuwait in 1990.

“I must stand with him, my people impose it on me, but I pressed in several phone calls fort him desist from his folly,” Arafat wrote of Hussein’s campaign, which included shooting some 39 scud missiles at Israel.

The Italian report marks the first time excerpts of Arafat’s diaries have been made public.

It also comes weeks after Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman exposed in his new book "Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel's Targeted Assassinations" the depths of Israel’s efforts to assassinate Arafat, who died in 2004 after developing stomach pains while at his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

The official cause of Arafat's death remains a mystery and has given rise to a host of conspiracy theories blaming Israel.


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