Denying reports that Yasser Arafat has suffered major organ damage but acknowledging that details of his condition remain uncertain, senior Palestinian officials said they planned to travel to Paris on Monday to assess the health of the Palestinian leader and meet with doctors and French authorities.
"We're going to really find out his condition and be close to him, even though it will only be for 24 hours," the foreign minister, Nabil Shaath, said on Sunday, adding that he would accompany Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia, the temporary head of the Palestinian Authority, and Mahmoud Abbas, acting chief of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
[But Arafat's wife, Suha Arafat, lashed out in a television interview on Monday that the planned visit by Palestinian leaders to see him was aimed at "burying (him) alive," the Associated Press reported.
[In a screaming telephone call from Arafat's hospital beside, she told the al-Jazeera satellite television network that she was issuing "an appeal to the Palestinian people." She accused Arafat's top lieutenants of conspiring to usurp the role her husband has held for four decades as Palestinian leader.
["You have to realize the size of the conspiracy. I tell you they are trying to bury Abu Ammar alive," she said, using his nom de guerre. "He is all right, and he is going home. God is great."]
Shaath said Arafat's doctors would determine whether members of the high-level delegation will be allowed to see the Palestinian leader, 75, who remains in critical condition in a French military hospital outside Paris.
The senior officials hope the visit "will allay the extreme anxiety going on here because of a lot of disinformation," Shaath said in a telephone interview. "It has been said that he died, that he is suffering from brain damage, liver damage -- all of that is untrue. The man is in critical condition, but it is not deteriorating."
Arafat was flown to Paris on Oct. 29, suffering from a life-threatening medical condition. Doctors have not released details of his illness. Suha Arafat has restricted access to her husband and to information about his health, provoking dismay among Palestinian officials, according to Arafat associates who accompanied him to Paris.
Shaath said Arafat is suffering from a loss of blood platelets that has left him weak, but that doctors have not determined what is causing the loss.
French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier, asked in an interview with LCI television on Sunday about Arafat's health, said that "he is alive," adding, "His condition is very complex, very serious and stable right now." Asked to respond to reports that Arafat is brain-dead, Barnier replied, "I wouldn't say that."
Israeli officials, meanwhile, said warnings about potential attacks against Israelis by militant groups have decreased in the past week as interim Palestinian leaders have pleaded with the organizations to curb anti-Israeli violence and unrest in the Palestinian territories while Arafat is struggling for his life.
"It seems the old guard has taken matters to hand, and it appears they are controlling the situation," Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Sunday during the weekly cabinet meeting, according to Israeli news accounts. "It appears they are calling for a united stance and an end to Hamas terror. However, there is no guarantee they will be successful."
Mofaz told the ministers that "there has been a certain decrease in the scope of the warnings," the cabinet reported in a communique released after the session, but added that general warnings of attacks in Israel continue.
Correspondent Glenn Frankel in Paris contributed to this report.