Two Palestinian officials on Tuesday denied media reports that Yasser Arafat had died, including Nasser al-Kidwa, his nephew and the Palestinian Authority's ambassador to the United Nations, who said he had spoken to the Palestinian president's doctors. "The situation is very difficult, but he is still alive," al-Kidwa told The Associated Press.
Another senior Palestinian official said Arafat is still alive, but has only hours to live.
On his part, Palestinian Cabinet minister Saeb Erekat told the AP that Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei saw Arafat during a visit of more than two hours to the Percy Military Training Hospital outside Paris.
Earlier in the day, the Paris hospital treating the Palestinian leader declared that he had fallen into a "deeper coma," Reuters reported.
The secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Mahmoud Abbas arrived in Paris from Jordan on Monday night, accompanied by Qurei and Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath.
"The French authorities have given permission to the
Palestinian leaders to visit Arafat at Percy hospital today," one official said.
The visit took place despite furious comments by Arafat's wife Suha, who on Monday accused the Palestinian leaders of seeking to "bury her husand alive."
Mrs. Arafat has the legal right in France to control who can enter Arafat's room and to ask doctors to cease life-support mechanisms.
Reports that Suha was aligning with figures such as Farouk Kaddoumi Monday night were proved wrong when Kaddoumi, who visited Paris briefly, issued a statement from his Tunis office disassociating himself from Mrs. Arafat's comments.
Meanwhile, the PA slammed Suha's remarks in comments published Monday night by the National News Agency (WAFA)'s political editor: "The Palestinian people have the right to know the fact (on Arafat's state) with all details. They have the right to know the secrets that every body is interested in."
"The citizens of Jerusalem, Jenin, Gaza, and all cities and camp have the right to know what is going on, they want to know why all of this mysteriousness on the health and the fate of their President."
"It is our right to ask the Palestinian Leadership, who rules now according to law and constitution, to initiate a political act. It is not a personal matter, it is not connected with the mood of an individual or a group. It is the more comprehensive issue in the eyes of the Palestinian people everywhere."
"This time, the Palestinian Leadership has to go straight to Paris to be close to what is going on, and to exactly understand whether Mr. President was poisoned or not, especially after the physicians assured, through the advanced analysis, that he suffers no organic diseases."
"We have to know whether the matter reached to an irreversible position, or we still have glimpse of hope?" (albawaba.com)