RAMALLAH, July 8 (Xinhua) -- The Palestinians are seeking to form an international committee to investigate the circumstances of late leader Yasser Arafat's death almost eight years ago.
The demand to form the committee was made five days after the Qatari-based al-Jazeera news channel showed a documentary saying that some radioactive Polonium was discovered in the things that Arafat used shortly before he died.
Chief Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erekat told reporters that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has been in France this weekend, had requested Paris' support for the formation of the committee. Arafat died in the country on Nov. 11, 2004.
"President Abbas asked the formation of an investigation committee similar to the committee formed to investigate the assassination of late Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri on Feb. 14, 2006," said Erekat.
On Thursday, Tunisia proposed to hold an emergency Arab League meeting to discuss the developments in the case of Arafat's mysterious death, a proposal welcomed by Palestinian Foreign Minister Reyad al-Malki, saying "we are waiting to set up a date for the meeting."
Meanwhile, General Tawfiq Tirawi, chairman of the Palestinian committee on Arafat's death, told Xinhua that he asked for the evidence and the documents shown in al-Jazeera's report and then plans to invite experts to take samples from Arafat's remains.
"Since I was nominated as the chairman of the committee two years ago, around 120 people were questioned, including dozens of Palestinian officials in the Palestinian Authority as well as many of Arafat's security and former bodyguards," said Tirawi.
Nabil Abu Rdineh, a spokesman for Abbas, has earlier commented on al-Jazeera's report, saying that the Palestinian Authority is willing to exhume Arafat's remains upon his family's request and examine them in order to learn the truth about his death.
Suha Arafat, the widow of late leader insisted on exhuming Arafat's remains from his temporary grave in the West Bank city of Ramallah to do the proper tests to verify the report.
Asked about exhuming Arafat's remains to do more tests, the late leader's nephew Nasser al-Qedwa said "all what we are asking for right now is to prove the truth and start measures to hold Israel responsible for assassinating him. Therefore I ask the world for legal measures before exhuming the body."
He also said that the Palestinian leadership is studying these days what are the next steps, adding that the leadership is holding intensive contacts with some countries, mainly France and Switzerland, adding "we are waiting for the fruits of these contacts in order to start our practical steps and exhume the body. "
Hanan Ashrawi, a member of Palestine Liberation Organization ( PLO), said that if it is necessary to exhume Arafat's remains to find out the reasons behind Arafat's death, then it will be done after finalizing all the administrative measures."
Meanwhile, Sheikh Mohamed Husein, the General Palestinian Mufti (Judges chief) and the speaker of al-Aqsa Mosque, told Xinhua that religiously speaking, "it is allowed to exhume Arafat's remains for examination, although it is a taboo in Islamic legislation, but in Arafat's case it is not forbidden."
"The documentary report shown by al-Jazeera that the radiation of the Polonium had killed Arafat is some new evidence that Israel is behind his death," al-Qedwa said, adding that "this calls on the international community for an urgent political move to sue Israel and condemn what it did."
Arafat, who was born in August 1928, became the chairman of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1969, and he was a popular leader not only among the Palestinian people, but among the Arabs of many other countries, who staged revolutions against the occupations on their homeland.
Arafat, who signed historic peace agreements with Israel, was later considered by right-wing Israeli leaders as an obstacle for peace. Israel and the United States boycotted him until he died in France in 2004.