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Palestinian president in hospital, condition 'excellent'

The photo, taken on March 22, 2018, shows Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas while speaking during a press conference at the Palestinian Authority headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (AFP photo)

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas should still remain in hospital despite his “excellent” conditions, officials have said in the wake of rumors about his deteriorating health.

Saed Sarahna, the head of Istishari Arab Hospital, where Abbas is being treated, said Saturday that the president of the Palestinian Authority (PA) should still stay in the facility, which is located near the city of Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

“His state of health is excellent but the doctors have not yet decided the date of his release,” said Sarahna without elaborating in further details about Abbas’ treatment.

Earlier reports had suggested that Abbas, 83, who was hospitalized last Saturday for follow-ups on an ear surgery, would be discharged on Monday or Tuesday. Doctors, however, have yet to confirm those reports, which were based on statements by PA officials.

Another source close to Abbas said doctors would agree on a discharge date when the Palestinian president fully recovers.

Palestinian news agency WAFA said Abbas had resumed his normal activities as president, adding that he had spoken to a number of regional politicians to reassure them of his health. It also said Gong Xiaosheng, China's special envoy to the Middle East, visited Abbas in hospital.

On Monday, official media published pictures showing Abbas reading a newspaper and walking around the wards, an apparent attempt to reject reports suggesting his condition was worse than officially communicated. Some of those reports, which authorities dismissed as rumors, said Abbas had a severe inflammation in his ear while others suggested the PA leader, who is a heavy smoker, may have suffered from a stroke as he had consistent pain in his chest.

The undated photo shows Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reading a newspaper in hospital in the city of Ramallah.

Abbas has served as the PA president since the death of Yasser Arafat in 2004. His administration rules the West Bank but represents all Palestinians, including those in the Gaza Strip, internationally.

The Palestinian leader, who has been accused of being too cooperative to the Israeli regime over the past years, has consistently rejected calls for an election that could renew his expired four-year mandate. He cites disagreement with the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, which rules Gaza, as the main impediment to holding a nationwide election.

Abbas’ health has been the subject of numerous media reports in the recent past. He was hospitalized for medical checks during a February trip to the United States to address the UN Security Council in New York.

His ailing condition comes amid some tough times for the Palestinians. About 100 people have been killed by Israel in renewed clashes on the Gaza border which intensified after the United States moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds. Abbas has fiercely contested the move while pursuing a case in the United Nations Security Council to condemn the Israeli killings as a war crime.

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