Abbas in ‘excellent’ health but still no date for hospital release
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Abbas in ‘excellent’ health but still no date for hospital release

PA chief visited by China's Middle East envoy as Palestinian official says doctors won't discharge him until he fully recovers

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas walking in hospital on May 21, 2018 (Screencapture/twitter)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas walking in hospital on May 21, 2018 (Screencapture/twitter)

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Palestinian Authority President Mahomud Abbas, hospitalized since May 20 with pneumonia, is in “excellent” health but no date has been set for his discharge, a hospital official said on Saturday.

“His state of health is excellent but the doctors have not yet decided the date of his release,” said Saed Sarahna, the head of the Istishari Arab Hospital where Abbas is being treated.

Palestinian officials have said the 83-year-old could go home on Monday or Tuesday but doctors at the hospital, near Ramallah in the West Bank, have not confirmed that timeframe.

One official said, however, that doctors would not agree a discharge date before his complete recovery.

Pictures of Abbas walking around the wards and reading a newspaper were published on Monday, in an apparent attempt to calm rumors that his condition was worse than officially reported.

The newspaper Abbas was pictured reading prominently carried a large cartoon on its back page, facing the camera, showing an Israeli soldier taking a baby’s milk away from her and ramming poison down her throat instead.

The cartoon referred to a claim by Gaza’s Hamas health ministry that 8-month-old Layla Ghandour died from inhaling tear gas fired by Israeli troops during violent protests on the Gaza border with Israel on May 14. That claim, which made worldwide headlines, is now disputed and the health ministry has backed away from it.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas shown recovering in hospital and reading a newspaper, on the back page of which is a cartoon portraying an Israeli soldier poisoning a Palestinian baby, May 22, 2018. (Wafa news agency)

Official media said Saturday that Abbas had spoken to a number of regional politicians to reassure them of his health.

On Saturday he was visited by Gong Xiaosheng, China’s special envoy to the Middle East, the official Wafa news agency said.

Abbas was admitted on Sunday with complications following an ear operation, while also complaining of chest pains.

Abbas’s health is the subject of regular speculation, with no clear successor identified.

In February, he underwent what were described as routine medical tests in the United States.

Abbas won a four-year term as PA president in 2005, but he has since remained in office without further elections. Abbas argues the split between his Fatah party and the Islamist terror group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, has made elections politically impossible.

A relative moderate, he has been involved in decades of negotiations with Israel but is increasingly poorly regarded by Israelis, including because of several recent anti-Israel and anti-Semitic speeches. He is also unpopular among Palestinians, with the majority wanting him to step down.

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