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Official Palestinian TV Channel Promotes Conspiracy Theory that Israel Poisoned Arafat

The Palestinian Authority’s official television network has been broadcasting a new video multiple times a day that claims that Israel poisoned former PA President Yasser Arafat and is now targeting current president Mahmoud Abbas, the watchdog organization Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) reported Friday.

The PA often airs accusations that Israel poisoned Arafat on the anniversary of his November 2004 death in Paris of an undisclosed illness. A Russian forensic examination of Arafat’s remains in December 2013 concluded that the former terrorist leader had died of natural causes. And a panel of three French judges concluded in 2015 that there was no evidence Arafat had been poisoned by polonium, a charge frequently made against Israel.

The new video adds footage of Israeli leaders criticizing Abbas, with a narrator then saying “The plot is renewed and history repeats itself.” The charge that Israel is targeting Abbas is curious given that in August 2014, Israeli security forces announced that they had foiled a Hamas plot to stage a coup against Abbas.

Abbas himself has played a role in promoting conspiracy theories about his predecessor’s death, declaring on Thursday that he knew who killed Arafat.

Palestinian media frequently broadcasts unfounded conspiracies about Israel and Jews. In January 2015, after Islamist terrorists gunned down 17 people at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, a Jewish grocery store, and a Parisian suburb, official PA media promoted theories linking Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jewish leaders to the attacks. A poll released that month by the official PA newspaper al-Hayat al-Jadida revealed that a majority of Palestinians believed that the Paris attacks were “suspicious, and that Israel may be behind it.” Less than nine percent of respondents blamed the attacks on growing Islamic extremism in Europe.

An op-ed in al-Hayat al-Jadida similarly charged that the deadly November 2015 attacks in Paris, which were claimed by the Islamic State, were rather carried out “by the octopus arms of the Mossad,” Israel’s intelligence agency.

[Photo: Al Jazeera English / Flickr ]