HE CHECKS OUT, SUHA CASHES IN
By URI DAN and ANDY SOLTIS
November 12, 2004 -- Suha Arafat, who jealously guarded her husband's
bedside during his final hours, brought his body home from France
yesterday for burial - after sealing a deal that will make her a very
Suha agreed to a settlement with the Palestinian Authority that will
reportedly pay her as much as $22 million a year for divulging the
secrets of her husband's fortune.
The 41-year-old wife of Arafat had been demanding half his billions in
hidden assets and threatening to withhold details about where to find
them from the new Palestinian leadership, according to newspapers in
Italy and Israel.
After intense negotiations, she agreed to a deal with Arafat's successor
as PLO chief, Mahmoud Abbas, when he visited Arafat's hospital.
According to one account in Corriere de la Serra, Suha will receive $22
million a year from the Palestinian Authority budget.
Another account, cited by the newspapers Maariv and La Repubblica, Suha
* A one-time payment of $20 million.
* A stipend of $35,000 a month for life.
* More than $10 million that was discovered last year by French
authorities investigating money laundering.
French sources said yesterday that earlier this week, Suha turned down a
$2 million offer. That settlement would have allowed doctors to complete
medical tests to determine what illness proved fatal to the 75-year-old
Palestinian officials would not discuss the negotiations in detail
But Arafat's longtime financial adviser, Mohammed Rashid, said earlier
this week that the Palestinian Authority would consider any "reasonable"
proposal from Suha.
Rashid and Suha, dubbed by the Palestinian press as "Miss Moneybags,"
are regarded as two of the few people who know where Arafat's fortune is
Estimates of Arafat's hidden assets, stashed in secret accounts around
the world, reach at least $4 billion.
Suha, wearing a black coat and pants, wept yesterday as her husband's
coffin, covered by the red, black, white and green Palestinian flag, was
carried off a military helicopter near Paris to a French government
She left in the plane for a funeral ceremony in Cairo followed by burial
in the West Bank today.
Sources said Suha is already playing kingmaker to determine who leads
the Palestinians in the post-Arafat era.
She has endorsed Farouk Kadoumi, a Tunisian-based radical, to lead
Arafat's Fatah political faction and claim the leadership of all
Suha is regarded by many Palestinians as a foreign interloper who
convinced Arafat's doctors to allow him to go to Paris for diagnosis two
weeks ago - then used French law to block anyone but her from sharing
his final hours.
Suha, who lives in Paris with the couple's daughter, Zahwa, refused to
allow Palestinian officials into Arafat's hospital room.
It was only after intense negotiations this week that she permitted
Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia to see Arafat on Tuesday.
The plane carrying Arafat's coffin arrived in Egypt late yesterday for
today's military funeral procession.
Suzanne Mubarak, wife of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, hugged Suha
after she left the aircraft. With Post Wire Services