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Yasser Arafat's death had been blamed on a stroke

Arafat fell ill in October 2004, displaying symptoms of acute gastroenteritis with diarrhoea and vomiting. At first Palestinian officials said he was suffering from influenza.

He was flown to Paris in a French government plane but fell into a coma shortly after his arrival at the Percy military hospital in the suburb of Clamart, where he died on 11th November.

Palestinian president Yasser Arafat and his wife Suha pictured in October 2004, shortly before his departure for Paris. Credit: ABACA ABACA PRESS/ABACA/Press Association Images

The official cause of death was a massive stroke but French doctors said at the time they were unable to determine the origin of his illness and no autopsy was carried out.

Polonium- 210 was responsible for the death of defecting Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in 2006 after it was slipped into a cup of tea in a London hotel. From his deathbed, Litvinenko accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of ordering his murder.


Yasser Arafat poisoning 'a smoking gun'

Professor David Barclay, a British forensic scientist retained by Al Jazeera to interpret the results of the Swiss tests, said the findings from Arafat's body confirmed the earlier results from traces of bodily fluids on his underwear, toothbrush and clothing.

In my opinion, it is absolutely certain that the cause of his illness was polonium poisoning. The levels present in him are sufficient to have caused death.

What we have got is the smoking gun - the thing that caused his illness and was given to him with malice.

Barclay said no one would have thought to look for polonium as a possible poison until the Litvinenko case, which occurred two years after Arafat's death.

Suha Arafat: 'We have proof of a political assassination'

"We are revealing a real crime, a political assassination," Suha Arafat told Reuters.

"This has confirmed all our doubts," said Suha Arafat. "It is scientifically proved that he didn't die a natural death and we have scientific proof that this man was killed."

She did not accuse any country or person, and acknowledged that the historic leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization had many enemies.

An investigation by the Qatar-based Al Jazeera television news channel first reported last year that traces of polonium-210 were found on personal effects of Arafat given to his widow by the French military hospital where he died.

Swiss team find evidence of Arafat poisoning

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was poisoned to death in 2004 with radioactive polonium, his widow Suha said after receiving the results of Swiss forensic tests on her husband's corpse.

A team of experts, including from Lausanne University Hospital's Institute of Radiation Physics, opened Arafat's grave in the West Bank city of Ramallah last November, and took samples from his body to seek evidence of alleged poisoning.


Talks begin as Palestinians welcome prisoners home

Peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators began in private today amid the expectation that they could quickly founder over the issue of Israeli settlements.

It was in stark contrast to the celebrations marking the homecomings of 26 Palestinian prisoners after years spent in Israeli jails.

ITV News' Middle East correspondent Geraint Vincent reports from Jerusalem:

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Prisoners reunited with their families after release

Palestinian families in the West Bank and Gaza welcomed home relatives who were earlier freed from Israeli jails.

Israel released 26 Palestinian prisoners, including some convicted of murder, on the eve of long-stalled Mideast peace talks.

A man is greeted by a his father after his release from prison. Credit: APTN

Esmat Mansour said:"I feel great, I wished and waited for 20 years for this moment, to be here with my mother and father, and with my family and friends".

He received a 22 year sentence after being convicted of aiding a Palestinian cell that murdered an Israeli man in the settlement of Beit El.

Esmat Mansour's mother affectionately touches his head. Credit: APTN

Palestinian President greets released prisoners

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed some of the 26 prisoners released by Israel on Tuesday upon their much celebrated return to the West Bank.

The release was part of an agreement brokered by US Secretary of State John Kerry to get Israel and the Palestinians back to the table for peace talks that had stalled since 2008.

In toral, 104 convicts will be released in four batches, although their freedom is contingent on progress in peace talks.

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