The more they dance around revealing Arafat’s condition, the more speculation there is about his “mystery illness. The NYT piece also delves into the money game as Suha Arafat is maneuvering for control of the outcome of events.
Mrs. Arafat, sophisticated, blonde and 34 years younger than her revolutionary icon husband, has used French privacy laws to keep the true state of her husband’s health a mystery to the world – and to the Palestinians who were closest to him, not to mention the ordinary people who claim him as the father of their nation.
French officials say they are fed up with her maneuvering, and so are the Palestinian leaders trying to keep their people calm and establish a legitimate line of succession to the 75-year-old Mr. Arafat, who kept all positions of real power to himself.
Exasperated and worried, senior Palestinian leaders arrived in Paris tonight to find out for themselves whether Mr. Arafat is alive or clinically dead, curable or not. But as they scheduled meetings for Tuesday with President Jacques Chirac of France and his foreign minister, Michel Barnier, it was still not clear whether they would be allowed to visit the bedside of Mr. Arafat.
The Palestinians abruptly canceled and then rescheduled the trip today after Mrs. Arafat accused them, in what she called “an appeal to the Palestinian people” from Mr. Arafat’s bedside, of trying to bury her husband alive and take over his powers.