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Palestinian leader will be flown to Paris "imminently" for hospital treatment
An ailing Yasser Arafat performed Muslim prayers before dawn on Thursday and ate a light breakfast, but his condition remained serious and a team of doctors flying in from Arab countries will decide whether he needs to be transferred from his compound to a hospital, aides said. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, in a telephone conversation with his Palestinian counterpart, agreed to allow Mr Arafat to be flown abroad for treatment, but it remained unclear if that would happen. On Wednesday evening, the 75-year-old leader-s persistent two-week illness had taken a sudden turn for the worse. He vomited after eating soup, then collapsed and was unconscious for about 10 minutes, a bodyguard said, the Economic Times reported. Yet the political health of the Palestinian society that Arafat has governed almost single-handedly for decades is the deeper issue that preoccupies Palestinians. His health problems focus attention on his personal role in Palestinian politics at a time when the overall condition of Palestinian society is very difficult, for Palestinians everywhere. Arafat and his colleagues carried the banner of Palestinian national aspirations throughout the world for many years; but today this movement is badly hobbled due to a series of reasons that can be attributed to Israelis, Palestinians, Arab states, the U.S. and other concerned parties. No single culprit stands out to take the full blame for the plight of the Palestinians today, wrote the Daily Star. According to the Australian, Palestinian leader will be flown to Paris "imminently" for hospital treatment, a French presidential spokesman said today. Mr Arafat's wife Suha lives in Paris with the couple's nine-year-old daughter Wahwa. They are both now at his bedside. Overnight, French President Jacques Chirac sent a get well message to the man who has come to symbolise the Palestinian struggle for independence. "France, as you know, backs the aspiration you embody for the creation of a viable, prosperous and peaceful Palestinian state alongside a state of Israel assured of its security," the president wrote. He signed off the letter by stressing "his sincerest wishes for a recovery" and extending his "cordial friendship".
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