Palestinian president in ‘excellent’ health but still in hospital

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Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, hospitalized since May 20 with pneumonia, is in excellent health but no date has been set for his discharge, a hospital official said on Saturday.

“His state of health is excellent but the doctors have not yet decided the date of his release,” said Saed Sarahna, the head of the Istishari Arab Hospital where Abbas is being treated.


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Palestinian officials have said the 83-year-old could go home on Monday or Tuesday but doctors at the hospital, near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, have not confirmed that timeframe. One official said, however, that doctors would not agree a discharge date before his complete recovery.

Pictures of Abbas walking around the wards and reading a newspaper were published on Monday, in an apparent attempt to calm rumors that his condition was worse than officially reported. Official media said he had spoken to a number of regional politicians to reassure them of his health.

On Saturday he was visited by Gong Xiaosheng, China’s special envoy to the Middle East, official Palestinian news agency WAFA said.

Chest pain

Abbas was admitted on Sunday with complications following an ear operation, while also complaining of chest pains. Abbas’s health is the subject of regular speculation, with no clear successor identified.

In February, he underwent what were described as routine medical tests in the United States. Abbas won a four-year term as president in 2005, but he has since remained in office without further elections.

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

A moderate, he has been involved in decades of negotiations with Israel but is unpopular among Palestinians, with the majority wanting him to step down.

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