Palestinian president Abbas leaves hospital after ‘routine checkup’

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Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas was discharged from hospital in the Israel-occupied West Bank on Saturday after a brief “routine checkup”, the official Wafa news agency reported.

The 82-year-old president “was admitted to hospital in Ramallah for a routine checkup to last only a few hours”, his spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said in a statement.

Wafa later reported: “The president left the Istishari hospital in Ramallah after routine health tests.”

A doctor at the hospital told Palestine TV all test results were “reassuring”.

“The president is in very good health,” Yasser Abu Safiya said.

Abbas was hospitalized in October last year for a heart test and later discharged, with his health reported to be normal.

There has been no Palestinian presidential election since 2005, and Abbas has remained in office despite the expiry of his term.

Abbas has suffered heart problems in the past, but his doctors have said he is fine. A year ago, Abbas underwent an emergency heart procedure after suffering exhaustion and chest pains. He went through a number of tests, including a cardiac catheterization, a procedure that can detect and treat heart problems, but was given a clean bill of health.

Last month, Abbas dispelled rumors he had suffered a stroke.

Any health scare for Abbas heightens concerns over the uncertain leadership situation in the Palestinian territories - which are divided between two rival governments and where there is no succession plan for the aging leader.

Abbas, who has no plans to step down, has ignored calls to appoint a successor, setting the stage for a bitter power struggle if he is incapacitated.

Abbas was elected president in 2005 for what was supposed to be a four-year term. But in 2007 the rival Hamas militant group seized control of the Gaza Strip, and Abbas has remained in power.

The Palestinians are now divided between two governments, Abbas’ Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and the Hamas government in Gaza. Attempts at reconciliation have repeatedly failed.

Abbas, who is a heavy smoker and is overweight, was treated years ago with prostate cancer and has had a stent inserted to treat artery blockage.

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