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PA chief Abbas gives public speech, amid rumors about his health

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks as he meets with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, March 27, 2022, in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks as he meets with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, March 27, 2022, in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gives a speech by telephone from his Ramallah office, in an apparent attempt to quash swirling rumors over the aging leader’s health.

Abbas, 86, has a long history of health issues, ranging from heart trouble to a battle with prostate cancer more than a decade ago.

Speculation over Abbas’s medical condition has been rampant for years, and PA officials have sought to keep Abbas’s routine checkups abroad out of the public eye.

The most recent round of rumors was kicked off when BBC Arabic published an unsourced report last week that Abbas confidant Hussein al-Sheikh had been handed some key responsibilities due to Abbas’s deteriorating health. The report was later erased from the website and the BBC’s Twitter account.

Al-Sheikh immediately denied the report, which he called “an attempt at tampering with the internal Palestinian situation.”

Today’s speech is Abbas’s first public appearance since that report.

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