File - In this Jan. 14, 2018, file photo, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting with the Palestinian Central Council in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Saeb Erekat, a top aide said Monday, May 21, 2018, that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is alert and making a swift recovery after being hospitalized with a fever over the weekend and should be released within days. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed, File)

Palestinian leader's health apparently improving in hospital

May 22, 2018 - 5:40 am
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RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas appears to be making a swift recovery in hospital from his latest health troubles.

His office released a photo and a brief video clip late on Monday showing him walking in the hospital hallway, dressed in a blue bathrobe and flanked by aides. Another photo showed him sitting and reading a newspaper in Ramallah's Istishari Hospital. Independent media outlets were banned from entering the hospital.

Abbas was hospitalized on Sunday with a fever, just days after undergoing ear surgery. Palestinian officials said he had pneumonia and was on a respirator, receiving antibiotics intravenously.

Top aide Saeb Erekat said Abbas was in "very good health" after spending several hours visiting the Palestinian leader and said he should be released within days. Erekat said Abbas was taking antibiotics and responding well to his treatment.

It was the latest health scare for the 83-year-old, who has had health problems in the past but never designated a deputy or successor. His sudden hospitalization has revived anxiety over a potentially chaotic or even bloody succession battle that could further weaken the Palestinian cause.

Abbas, who is a heavy smoker and overweight, has a long history of health issues, ranging from heart trouble to a bout with prostate cancer a decade ago. Two years ago, he underwent an emergency heart procedure after suffering exhaustion and chest pains.

More recently, a cardiologist moved into the presidential compound in Ramallah to monitor the longtime leader after a mysterious hospital visit in the United States, following Abbas' address to the United Nations Security Council, in which he appeared weak.

Speaking Tuesday to reporters at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki warned against taking Abbas' health scare out of proportion.

"It's obvious that all of us as humans might have certain health setbacks ... President Abbas is not really immune from that," he said. "Of course we were concerned about his health as anyone should be but you know we should not really take it out of proportion when it comes to his health."

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