Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Hospitalized for Heart Tests After Feeling Fatigued

Officials say the 81-year-old Palestinian president underwent a cardiac catheterization for the removal of heart or vein blockages. Abbas underwent similar procedures in 2008 and 2005.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, European Council President Donald Tusk and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis attending former Israeli President Shimon Peres' funeral in Jerusalem, September 30, 2016.
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, European Council President Donald Tusk and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis attend former Israeli President Shimon Peres' funeral in Jerusalem. Abir Sultan, AFP

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas briefly hospitalized in Ramallah on Thursday for medical tests after feeling "fatigued," according to Palestinian sources.

The 81-year-old president's doctors performed a cardiac catheterization, a procedure in which a thin plastic tube is inserted into the heart via an artery or vein to assess any blockages, one of the sources said.

"Thank God everything is fine, I had the surgery, it was easy and I'm leaving now," said Abbas, who spoke briefly to Palestine TV before leaving the hospital.

A Palestinian doctor told Reuters that Abbas' heart test results were normal. "The president was hospitalized today for routine tests and we performed a (cardiac) catheterization. The results look normal and he will leave hospital in the next two hours," Saeed Sarahneh, a senior doctor at Esteshari Hospital in the city of Ramallah, said. He was released Thursday evening.

Dr. Saeb Erekat, secretary of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said the Abbas was undergoing medical tests in a Ramallah hospital and that his health was fine.

Abbas had similar procedures in 2008 and 2005. He also had prostate surgery in the United States in 2001.

His 2008 cardiac catherization was performed in a hospital in Amman, Jodan, following a routine medical examination.

Abbas, who succeeded Yasser Arafat as president in January 2005, has no known history of heart problems, though he is said to have high blood pressure. In the past, he has battled cancer and eye ailments.

Mahmoud Abbas headed the Palestinian negotiating team during the peace talks with Israel in Oslo, Norway, in the early Nineties and signed the Oslo Accords with Israel on behalf of the PLO in September 1993.

He returned to the Palestinian territories in 1995, for the first time in 47 years, and was elected president of the Palestinian Authority in January 2005, succeeding Yasser Arafat.

In his inauguration speech Abbas called for the armed Palestinian groups to lay down their weapons, arguing that the armed conflict had yielded few results. His calls, while welcomed in the international community, were not greeted with broad acceptance in the territories.

In June 2007, Abbas dissolved a Hamas-led unity government, declared a state of emergency, and appointed Salam Fayyad as prime minister. As a result, Hamas men stormed Fatah-controlled installations inside the Gaza Strip, instigating a round of bloody infighting that effectively ended Fatah’s influence in the Gaza Strip.

Subsequent Arab-mediated efforts at reconciliation between the two factions have been largely unsuccessful, leading to political infighting between the two groups that continues unabated.

Abbas’s presidential term expired in January 2009, but elections for a successor were not held due to the political infighting and he has continued to hold office. Local elections due to be held this month were postponed last week, again due to the Fatah-Hamas conflict.