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Yasser Arafat would be unable to resume ruling the PA, even if he lives
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's health has suffered a setback and doctors treating him in France are carrying out more tests to discover why, Palestinian envoy Leila Shahid told Reuters on Wednesday. "There is a setback in Abu Ammar's health. The doctors are carrying out tests to try to explain why this happened," she said, using Arafat's nom de guerre and without giving further details of his condition. She said his life was not in any immediate danger and there had also been several positive developments on the 75-year-old's health. French doctors had said on Tuesday Arafat was responding to treatment and ruled out leukemia, though aides said the Palestinian leader could remain in a French military hospital for several more weeks. He was airlifted out of his Ramallah compound in the West Bank last week with severe stomach pains, diarrhea and vomiting, informs Reuters. According to Associated Press, Israeli T-V is reporting Yasser Arafat's health has deteriorated, and that the Palestinian leader is now in intensive care. A reporter for Channel Two is quoting Palestinian officials as saying Arafat is in "very serious condition." The Palestinian leader has been hospitalized outside Paris since Friday. In France, an aide to Arafat denied the Israeli media report. He says Arafat is in "stable condition." The details of Arafat's illness are still unknown, but Israeli officials say they're preparing for the "day after" his death. Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom says Israel is closely monitoring Arafat's health to be ready "if and when" he dies. Shalom tells Israel Radio that officials believe Arafat may have cancer, or some kind of serious infection. Arafat was placed in intensive care at the military hospital where he was brought for treatment Friday. Only his wife Suha, who lives in Paris, and a handful of aides were informed and no visitors were allowed to see him. The hospital did not issue any statement. The deterioration was said to be sudden and unexpected. The cause of Arafat's disorder is apparently viral, making it difficult to treat with medicine. French doctors treating him had earlier ruled out leukemia. "There is a setback in Abu Amar's health," said the Palestinian envoy to Paris, Leila Shahid, using Arafat's nom de guerre. "The doctors are carrying out tests to try to explain why this happened." But while several Palestinians officials confirmed the deterioration in Arafat's condition, former Gaza security chief Mohammed Dahlan denied it, insisting Arafat was in "stable condition." It was not clear if the PA chairman's life was in danger after the change in his condition. He first became ill during the Ramadan fast when his doctors said he was suffering from flu. Israel allowed him to be taken from his Muqata headquarters after his condition worsened. Earlier Wednesday, Shahid said Arafat felt well enough to ask about the U.S. presidential election, and an aide later issued a statement in Arafat's name congratulating George W. Bush on his reelection. At the time, Shahid also said Arafat's health was improving. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon convened a security meeting Wednesday on the situation in the Palestinian Authority with Arafat incapacitated. It was attended by Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and the top brass of the Israel Defense Forces and the intelligence community. The assessment presented at the meeting, based on Palestinian sources, was that Arafat's condition remained grave and that he would be unable to resume ruling the PA, even if he lives, publishes Haaretz.
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