TEL AVIV – Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas blamed his most recent hospitalization on President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the subsequent opening of the U.S. embassy there earlier this month.
“The health of the state is good, we will achieve our goal, which is an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital,” Abbas said after being released from a nine-day stint at the hospital. “If the story of Jerusalem put me in the hospital, then I leave and say that Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine.”
“Thank God I’m discharged from the hospital today in full health, and will return back to work from tomorrow,” Abbas said.
Trump’s Jerusalem declaration was met with widespread condemnation from the Palestinians, as well as the Arab and Muslim world at large. Abbas suspended all ties with the Trump administration after the move, and said that the decision showed the U.S. is not an impartial broker for peace.
Abbas, 83, has been hospitalized several times in recent years. Palestinian officials said the latest was due to pneumonia.
The extended stay led to speculation that Abbas’ condition was worsening, and gave rise to concerns that he has appointed no successor. Abbas was elected to a four-year term in 2005, but has remained in office nine years after his term expired and has not held elections since.
Jibril Rajoub, a former security chief widely considered to be a possible successor for the presidency, slammed the rumors.
“Some are using the president’s illness for political gain. Shame on them,” he said.
In order to dispel the rumors, photos of Abbas walking around the hospital looking relatively healthy were published in Palestinian media outlets.
— Amichai Stein (@AmichaiStein1) May 21, 2018
In one picture, Abbas is seen perusing an Arabic-language paper with an anti-Israel cartoon on the back page. The cartoon features an Israeli soldier force-feeding poisoned milk to a baby. The cartoon’s publication coincided with the death of a Gazan baby during the violent riots on the border, which Palestinians said was due to Israeli tear gas.
Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry later admitted that the child had a preexisting heart condition that was probably the cause of death.
Abbas and the anti-Israel cartoon. Photo Credit:Twitter screenshot