Palestinian president Abbas leaves hospital

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories, May 28, 2018 (AFP) : Palestinian
president Mahmud Abbas left hospital on Monday following eight days of
treatment for pneumonia and pledged to return to work.

The 83-year-old, dressed in a suit as usual and walking without assistance,
gave a short statement on being discharged, saying he planned to be back at
work in his office as normal on Tuesday.

“Thanks to God, I left the hospital today in good health and return to work
starting tomorrow,” he said, speaking vigorously and with his two sons by his
side.

“I thank the leaders, kings, politicians, presidents, brothers — Arab and
non-Arab — who have kindly asked about me, and I am thankful to all.”

Abbas, known to be a heavy smoker, was admitted on May 20 to the Istishari
Arab Hospital near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank with complications
following an ear operation, including high fever.

Officials have since said he was being treated for pneumonia.

His extended hospitalisation led to widespread speculation over whether his
condition was worse than the details being disclosed.

No successor is publicly in line for the Palestinian presidency, which has
added to concerns over Abbas’s health.

Abbas won a four-year term as president in 2005, but he has since remained
in office without further elections.

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

– White House ties –

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

Many Palestinians see his approach to negotiations as having failed to end
the Israeli occupation and come anywhere near reaching the goal of statehood.

Israeli officials, while criticising what they see as his intransigence,
greatly value the security coordination with them Abbas’s administration has
provided.

Some analysts say an interim arrangement would be the most likely course of
action after Abbas’s death to prevent a lengthy succession battle.

That could mean putting different people in charge of the Palestine
Liberation Organisation, Fatah and the Palestinian Authority. Abbas is
currently head of all three.

Abbas succeeded Yasser Arafat, the keffiyeh-wearing leader who was
charismatic and revered by Palestinians.

Though Abbas has been valued by the international community due to his
belief in negotiations and stated opposition to violence, he has struggled to
meet Palestinians’ expectations left behind by Arafat.

In recent months, Abbas has faced what the Palestinians see as the blatant
bias of US President Donald Trump’s administration.

Abbas froze all ties with the White House over Trump’s decision to
recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and has increasingly sharpened his
rhetoric against US officials.

In a recent speech, he called US ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who
has been a supporter of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, a “son of a
dog”.

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