Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas spent almost a third of 2018 abroad, despite personal health problems, declining support, dwindling budgets and ongoing tensions between his Fatah movement and the Hamas terror group that controls Gaza.
According to data obtained by Ynet, the 83-year-old Palestinian leader spent 109 days visiting 17 countries on five continents last year. He visited the USA and Russia twice (including for the World Cup), and made six trips - the most for any single country - to Jordan, where he owns a home. Abbas also visited France, Ireland, Belgium, Italy, Cuba, Venezuela and Chile.
When travelling, Abbas flies in a private Boeing 737 aircraft, despite the Palestinian Authority running a severe budget deficit and experiencing declining revenue. Its annual budget is NIS 17 billion, and it is already NIS 3.5 billion in the red.
In May 2018, Abbas was hospitalized in Ramallah for several days due to complications stemming from an ear infection, as well as respiratory problems. PA sources claim that his frequent travels in his advanced age led to the complications. Since then, however, he has visited 10 foreign countries.
Abbas is also suffering from a decrease in public support as the Palestinian public sees him as disconnected from the people. He seldom visits Palestinian communities aside from the West Bank city of Ramallah, where he resides, and trips to Bethlehem during Christmas season festivities.