An Italian magazine published excerpts from former PLO leader Yasser Arafat’s diaries this weekend, revealing evidence of a mutual non-aggression pact between the PLO and Italy.
The excerpts also contain details about “lying to help former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi avoid fraud charges, his friendship with former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and his opposition to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein during the 1991 Gulf War,” according to the Times of Israel. Arafat died in 2004.
Nineteen volumes of Arafat’s diaries had long belonged to trustees in Luxembourg, but they were recently purchased by a French foundation. Though this publication is the first confirmation of the non-aggression pact, the relationship had long been the subject of rumor.
Most explosive is Arafat’s discussion of the Achille Lauro hijacking, in which American Jew Leon Klinghoffer was killed. Then-foreign minister Giulio Andreotti allowed the hijacker Muhammad Zaidan, who also went by the moniker Abul Abbas, to escape extradition to the U.S., sending him on his way to Yugoslavia.
“Italy,” Arafat wrote, “is a Palestinian shore of the Mediterranean.”
Arafat also wrote about receiving nearly 10 million lira from Berlusconi, who paid Arafat for his agreement to mislead authorities about aid money that had been funneled to the Italian Socialist Party.
Amidst the revelations is a reflection on Arafat’s relationship with Shimon Peres, whom Arafat calls an “excellent person…beautiful.”
To what extent the contents of these diaries can be taken as fact is unclear. But it is certainly an insight into Arafat’s mind; he claims that he never ordered a terrorist attack, but rather, he would tell others “you decide” when presented with a plan.
Jesse Bernstein is a former Intern at Tablet.