Abbas Hospitalized in Ramallah Over Severe Ear Infection

Aides of the 82-year-old Palestinian president say that he was taken to a hospital after feeling ill. Haaretz reported in March that Abbas' health continues to deteriorate

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends a press statement in Paris, France, December 22, 2017.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends a press statement in Paris, France, December 22, 2017. Credit: REUTERS/POOL
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was hospitalized in Ramallah on Sunday for a severe ear infection just days after undergoing ear surgery, his associates said, the latest setback in the 82-year-old’s health that reportedly has been deteriorating since March.

His fever is high and there is also a suspicion he might have pneumonia, the sources told Haaretz.

In March, Israel was preparing for the possibility that Abbas’ ill health would intensify the succession wars in the Palestinian Authority and undermine the relative stability in the West Bank.

A senior Palestinian official who visited Abbas at Istishari Hospital said the president had been hospitalized because of an ear infection, though his doctors opted to keep him at Istishari overnight due to the fever. The official said Abbas was showing signs of weakness but was fully conscious and communicating with those around him.

Still, sources in Ramallah also reported tensions between Abbas and the Muqata, the seat of the Palestinian government, more so than on earlier occasions.

In any case, Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, also visited Abbas, later tweeting that the president was in good condition.

Some sources in Ramallah said Abbas might be transferred to Amman via helicopter or ambulance, though his close associates said there was no need. Sources in Israel said no request had been made to coordinate a departure for Amman.

Abbas’ age and health have been a key issue in his Fatah movement and in wider Palestinian politics, though he has not indicated any intention to step down. This was clear at the last meeting of the National Palestinian Council on April 30, when he was unanimously re-elected chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, after which he applied pressure to get close associates onto the council.

In late February, when Abbas was in the United States to address the UN Security Council in New York, he was hospitalized for a few hours in Baltimore for tests; the previous July, he had also undergone tests in Ramallah.

In an interview on Palestinian television in February, Abbas said his health was good, but Palestinian activists have said he is sick and his condition is worsening. There has even been a claim on social networks that Abbas had cancer of the digestive system.

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