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PLO Leader’s Wife Reportedly Denies Arafat Married Before

December 11, 1994

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) _ Yasser Arafat’s wife says reports that her husband was married once before are false and intended to tarnish the PLO leader’s reputation.

″These news are fabricated and aimed at distorting the image of Abu Ammar,″ Suha Arafat said, using her husband’s nickname, in an interview published Sunday in the Saudi-owned newspaper Asharq al-Awsat.

On Friday, a day after Mrs. Arafat announced she is expecting a baby due next summer, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz published an interview with a woman claiming to be Arafat’s first wife.

The paper published a picture of her and Arafat cutting what the newspaper claimed was their wedding cake.

Haaretz reported that Najla Yassin, Arafat’s former office manager, had claimed in the interview that she and the Palestine Liberation Organization chief lived together for 18 years until 1985 but had no children.

Yassin denied the Haaretz report in an interview published Sunday in the Al-Khaleej newspaper in the United Arab Emirates.

The paper quoted her as saying the Haaretz interview was ″a trick″ and accused the reporter of representing herself as a reporter for a Palestinian paper.

″She said she wanted to talk to me about the role of Palestinian women in the resistance outside Palestine,″ Yassin said.

The photo published by Haaretz ″was taken ... on a national occasion at the Palestinian women’s union″ and not at a wedding, she said.

Yassin insisted that her relationship with Arafat has been one of Palestinian fighter and leader, not wife and husband.

Asked about her relations with Arafat’s present wife, Yassin told al- Khaleej: ″She’s like my child. I’ve known her since she was a small girl as I’ve had a good relationship with her mother, Raymonda.″

Mrs. Arafat described Yassin as ″a respectable woman and fighter who stood next to Abu Ammar in the most difficult conditions and carried out her role very well.″

Arafat married Suha al-Tawil, his personal secretary, in 1991. His office in Gaza declined comment on the Haaretz report.

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