PLO official Stands by Abbas Claim

Farouk Kaddoumi, a Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) official, has told Al Jazeera he stands by documents that he says show that Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, was involved in a conspiracy to assassinate Yasser Arafat, his predecessor.

Abbas’s Fatah party has dismissed Kaddoumi’s claim that Abbas had in a meeting with Ariel Sharon, the ex-Israeli prime minister, discussed Arafat’s killing.

Kaddoumi, the head of the political department of the PLO and the second-most senior leader of Fatah, first leveled the allegations on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, he defended his charge and said: "I have not made accusations against anyone, but I have meeting transcripts which accuse people … Transcripts of meetings between Sharon, Abu Mazen [Abbas], and [former Palestinian security adviser Mohammed] Dahlan.

"I have not accused anyone. I just offered a document. If the document, as they claim, has no basis, they are welcome to prove their point.

"However, I strongly believe that the document is an original one and all information included in it is correct. And, since 2004 until today, the actions of some members of the Palestinian Authority have definitely proven to me that these issues are correct."

Arafat died in a Paris hospital in November 2004 after falling into a coma.

Motives Questioned

Hussein al-Shaikh, the secretary of Fatah in the West Bank, criticized Kaddoumi, who was one of the group’s founders, and called for a meeting of the central committee to discuss the allegations.

Al-Shaikh said: "For what reasons and purposes and for the interest of which party Abu Lutif [Kaddoumi] raises such an issue now?."

Kaddoumi, who lives in Tunisia, said he had waited five years to air the allegations as he had been gathering more evidence.

"I believe today is the right time to offer them with the document to discuss it in the upcoming Fatah conference," he told Al Jazeera.

"I hoped that the conference will be held oversees, so we can discuss the document, but, unfortunately, when the location was changed and Abu Mazen [Abbas] took a unilateral decision to hold the conference under the Israeli occupation, I decided to publish the information."

Fatah is scheduled to hold its first party congress in 20 years in the West Bank in August 4, but Kaddoumi will be unable to attend because of its location.

Kaddoumi is a long-time rival of Abbas and does not recognize any of the interim peace deals agreed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Al Jazeera Shut out

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has suspended Al Jazeera’s news operation in the West Bank and threatened to take it to court over its reporting of Kaddoumi’s allegations.

The information ministry accused the network of "devoting significant segments of its broadcasts to incitement against the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Palestinian Authority (PA)".
 
The accusations were rejected by Al Jazeera.

In a statement, Al Jazeera said it was "stunned" that it had been sanctioned for the story, which had also been aired by several other media.

"Al Jazeera is astonished to learn of the Palestinian Authority’s decision to suspend the network’s operations in the West Bank and the PA’s intention to take legal action against Al Jazeera’s Arabic channel.

"Al Jazeera believes that it has maintained strict professional journalistic standards and acted in accordance with its Code of Ethics in its coverage, and that the Palestinian Authority’s reaction reflects a repression of the freedom of media and a refusal to tolerate the opinions of others.

"Al Jazeera is surprised that it has been targeted by this decision while many other Arab and international media organizations also broadcast Kaddoumi’s allegations.
 
(Aljazeera.net English and Agencies)

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