Palestinian Leaders Health Scares Spark Succession Talk

In this Sept. 19, 2014 file photo, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gestures as he speaks during a media conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris. The Hamas militant group on Sunday, Sept. 7, 2017, said it has accepted key conditions demanded by its rival, President Mahmoud Abbas, including nationwide elections …
AP/Michel Euler

(AP) 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.

.