Abbas takes to Palestinian TV to downplay health concerns

Rumors of the 82-year-old leader’s ill health surface after he undergoes medical tests in Baltimore while on a US visit

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas speaks to the press after meeting with Jordan's king at the Royal Palace in Amman on October 22, 2017. (AFP Photo/Khalil Mazraawi)
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas speaks to the press after meeting with Jordan's king at the Royal Palace in Amman on October 22, 2017. (AFP Photo/Khalil Mazraawi)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas appeared on local Palestinian television Friday to downplay concerns over his health after undergoing what were described as routine tests in the United States.

In an interview with Palestine TV while in America, 82-year-old Abbas rejected reports he had been rushed to hospital during his visit.

“It was a suitable opportunity to be here to conduct some medical tests, and these tests have been conducted and now we left,” he said after leaving hospital.

“Thank God all the results are positive and reassuring.”

The health of the longtime smoker has long been the subject of speculation, with no clear successor identified.

Abbas had also said Thursday he had been given a clean bill of health after visiting Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Initial reports had suggested that Abbas was rushed to the hospital, but Palestinian civil affairs minister Hussein Al Sheikh said the visit was routine.

Abbas had originally been scheduled to travel to Venezuela on Thursday, according to Reuters.

In July, Abbas was briefly admitted to a West Bank hospital after suffering from “exhaustion” following a period of heightened tensions with Israel over the Temple Mount.

The PA president was treated several years ago for prostate cancer, and has also had a stent inserted in his heart to treat artery blockage.

In October 2016, he underwent an emergency cardiac catheterization suffering exhaustion and chest pains.

Abbas was in the US to meet with political allies amid a breakdown of communication with the US administration following US President Donald Trump’s much-criticized recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The Palestinians, who want the eastern part of the city as the capital of their future state, have said the US has disqualified itself as a mediator in talks with Israel and cut political ties with the administration. Israel welcomed the December 6 US recognition, and has long made clear only the US can serve as a peace-broker.

Trump is expected to propose a peace plan in the coming months.

Abbas has been in power since winning presidential elections in 2005.

He has remained in the role despite his initial mandate expiring in 2009, arguing that splits between the Palestinian factions have made fresh elections impossible.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this piece.

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