Abbas makes trip to Berlin for ‘routine’ medical check — Palestinian official

Source says PA president, 83, in good health, despite long history of medical issues

Adam Rasgon is the Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, walking in a hospital, on May 21, 2018. (screen capture: Twitter)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, walking in a hospital, on May 21, 2018. (screen capture: Twitter)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas underwent a series of medical checks at a hospital in Berlin last week, a Ramallah-based official said.

The Palestinian leader, 83, has faced bouts of health woes in recent years, leading to fears of a power struggle, should he be unable to continue as PA president, but authorities said the trip to Germany was for routine checks.

Abbas’s plane traveled to Berlin on Monday afternoon from Amman and returned to the Jordanian capital on Friday, plane tracking websites showed.

“The president was in Berlin for routine medical checks,” the Palestinian official told The Times of Israel. “He is in good health.”

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, declined to elaborate on the types of “routine checks” the PA president underwent.

The official PA news site Wafa did not publish any reports about Abbas traveling to Germany. It is rare that the government-run outlet does not issue reports on the PA president’s international travel.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks to Palestinian leaders at the Muqata, the PA headquarters, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on February 20, 2019. (ABBAS MOMANI / AFP)

Abbas, a longtime smoker, has a long history of health issues, ranging from heart trouble to a battle with prostate cancer more than a decade ago.

Abbas was hospitalized with pneumonia in May, just days after undergoing ear surgery, Palestinian officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said at the time. His condition was eventually stabilized, however, after doctors intravenously administered antibiotics to him, the officials said.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas shown recovering in a hospital on May 22, 2018, reading a newspaper. (Wafa news agency)

In February 2018, Abbas underwent medical checks, including a biopsy, at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, according to Jibril Rajoub, the secretary-general of the Fatah Central Committee, who gave the report to Palestine TV, the official PA channel, last year.

“He had a minor health problem. So he did a check. The doctors took a biopsy from him and we now know he has nothing wrong,” Rajoub said at the time.

Rumors regarding Abbas’s health have been rampant, and Palestinian officials have worked to both tamp down unconfirmed reports and also to keep the president’s health issues out of the public eye.

Abbas has not appointed a PA vice president or moved to create such a role. Since 2005, when Abbas was elected to a four-year term, the Palestinians also have not held PA presidential elections.

Ramallah-based Palestinian officials have argued that they cannot hold PA presidential elections as long as the PA does not control both the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The Hamas terror group ousted the Fatah-dominated PA from Gaza in 2007.

In addition to PA president, Abbas also holds the titles of Fatah chairman and Palestine Liberation Organization chief.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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