The Palestinian President has fallen into a deeper coma and suffering from a brain haemorrhage. Yasser Arafat’s condition worsened overnight, triggering renewed reports of his death. Earlier Palestinian Foreign Minister, Nabil Shaath, said he is critically ill, but his brain, heart and lungs are still functioning. The flurry of conflicting reports surfaced during a visit to Paris by a delegation of three top Palestinian officials, all seen as potential successors to Arafat.
They discussed Arafat’s condition with the French President, Jacques Chirac, but officials gave no details of their talks. In the West Bank however, Palestinian figures are openly talking about his demise. One official told the Reuters news agency that Arafat died this morning and Palestinian leaders are now waiting for a senior Muslim cleric to arrive to give the go-ahead to detach him from life-support machines. The official said they also need time to make funeral preparations.
But it seems plans are well underway in the West Bank. Despite Israeli protests, Palestinian officials also say that Arafat will be buried at his West Bank headquarters in Ramallah – a symbol of Palestinian resistance.