Abbas said suffering from pneumonia, but now on his feet, condition improving

Palestinian media publish pictures and video of 83-year-old PA leader walking around in his robe in hospital and reading a newspaper

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is suffering from pneumonia but his condition is improving, officials said late Monday as pictures emerged showing the Palestinian leader walking around a hospital in his robe.

“I visited President Abbas in hospital tonight. He suffers from pneumonia and is treated with antibiotics,” Ahmed Tibi, an Arab Israeli lawmaker, said on Twitter, adding that the octogenarian’s condition had “markedly improved.”

Palestinian media published pictures and video of a jovial looking Abbas walking around in hospital in a dark blue robe and sitting in his bed reading a newspaper, surrounded by associates.

Earlier it had been reported that Abbas, 83, was suffering from a fever as a result of an ear infection.

On Monday afternoon a senior Palestinian official told The Times of Israel that Abbas’s health condition is “good” and has improved considerably in recent hours, a day after he was hospitalized for the third time in a week.

According to the Palestinian official, Abbas,  was suffering from an ear infection as a result of a recent surgery. The fever, a symptom of the infection, has since dropped, the official said.

Abbas has been receiving intravenous antibiotics since Sunday, is fully conscious and communicating with those around him, and is walking to the bathroom alone, said the official.

“We hope that he will be released within two days and his condition is certainly good,” the official said.

Abbas was admitted to the Istishari Arab Hospital near Ramallah in the West Bank on Sunday with complications following the ear operation.

Since his hospitalization there have been divergent accounts of his symptoms, with some Palestinian officials saying Abbas had pneumonia and was on a respirator, receiving antibiotics intravenously. Some sources also said he was suffering from chest pain.

Abbas has endured a series of recent health scares which have revived anxiety over a potentially chaotic, and even bloody, succession battle that could further weaken the Palestinian cause.

Senior official Saeb Erekat downplayed fears about his condition late Sunday.

“The president is suffering from an inflammation of the ear that developed following the operation he undertook recently,” Erekat told AFP.

It is the third time Abbas has been in the hospital in a week, initially for the ear operation on Tuesday and then for tests on Saturday.

Abbas, who is a heavy smoker and overweight, has a long history of health issues, ranging from heart trouble to a bout with prostate cancer a decade ago. Two years ago, he underwent an emergency heart procedure after suffering exhaustion and chest pains.

More recently, a cardiologist moved into the presidential compound in Ramallah to monitor the longtime leader after a mysterious hospital visit in the United States, following Abbas’s address to the United Nations Security Council in which he appeared weak.

Abbas, who insisted after the ear surgery last week that he was fine, has refused to designate a successor. But after more than a decade of avoiding discussion of the post-Abbas era, Palestinian officials acknowledge that they are concerned, and potential successors are quietly jockeying for position.

He won a four-year term as president in 2005, but he has since remained in office in the absence of elections.

Abbas argues the split between his Fatah party and Islamist terror group Hamas, which control the Gaza Strip, has made elections politically impossible.

He has been involved in decades of negotiations with Israel but is unpopular among Palestinians, with the majority wanting him to step down. He has also infuriated Israel’s government with a series of recent speeches denying any Jewish connection to the holy land and veering into anti-Semitism.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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