The Palestinian Authority has signalled it is ready to exhume the body of Yasser Arafat to verify claims that he may have been poisoned.
Eight years after the event, fresh inquiries into the death of the revered Palestinian leader are being made after tests ordered by his widow as part of an Al Jazeera investigation revealed evidence of unusually high levels of the radioactive substance polonium were present on Arafat's clothing just prior to his death.
Yasser Arafat's wife Suha Arafat: "I want to ask to exhume the body of my husband. I think this is my responsibility as a mother, as a wife, as his partner of this great man for 20 years. This is my message to the Palestinian Authority that they have to co-operate because the grave and the tomb of Yasser is in Ramallah."
Arafat had been suffering from a mysterious illness before his death in November 2004 at the age of 75. He was airlifted first to Jordan and then to France for treatment, but passed away weeks later in a Paris hospital. Doctors at the time said they had been unable to establish the cause of death.
The iconic leader's funeral in the West Bank was attended by thousands. His limestone mausoleum, now set to be opened to verify the poisoning claims, sits in Ramallah. But to exhume Arafat's body would go against the traditions of conservative Muslims and could prove controversial. Nonetheless, Saeb Erekat, aide to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, says the exhumation will likely go ahead.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' aide Saeb Erekat:"I think upon the completion of the procedures of family and religious issues I think there should not be a problem to allow the Swiss experts to come and check the body of the late President Yasser Arafat. "
The uncertainty surrounding Arafat's passing has led to many to speculate that Israel may have had a hand in his death. But experts at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism find the theory improbable.
International Institute for Counter-Terrorism scholar Eli Karmon: "I think this was denied very strongly by the Israeli authorities, which at that time at least did not have interest politically to eliminate Arafat, which (sic) was in a very weak position, did not make the right decisions and practically was ostracised by the United States and most of the democratic countries."
A time frame for checking Arafat's body for radioactivity has yet to be set. Still widely respected in the West Bank and beyond, it remains to be seen if the planned exhumation and tests will bring some clarity to the circumstances surrounding his death, or only lead to new questions.