RAMALLAH – A series of recent health scares have raised concerns about octogenarian President Mahmoud Abbas, reviving anxiety about a potentially chaotic succession battle bound to further weaken the Palestinian cause.
Officials say a cardiologist has moved into the presidential compound in Ramallah to monitor the longtime leader, following a mysterious hospital visit in the United States after Abbas appeared weak in an address to the UN Security Council.
Abbas is a heavy smoker with long-standing heart problems who turns 83 next week. He insists he is fine. But after more than a decade of avoiding discussion of the post-Abbas era, Palestinian officials acknowledge that they are concerned, and potential successors are quietly jockeying for position.
The officials all spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss Abbas' health issues.