Concerns have grown over reports claiming the health of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has deteriorated in recent months, Israeli security sources indicated. Report with information about Abbass' health, who will be 83 at the end of the month, has been submitted to Israeli political and security officials.
The purpose behind such a report is to stress the importance of Israel preparing for a sudden absence of Abbas. Although the security cooperation between Israel and the PA is going on well, Israel is readying itself for the possibility that a continued worsening of Abbas’ health will intensify the succession wars in the Palestinian Authority (PA) and undermine the current relative stability in the West Bank, according to the report.
"At the end of last month, while he was in the United States to address the UN General Assembly in New York, Abbas was hospitalized for a few hours for tests in a Baltimore hospital.
He also underwent tests in a Ramallah hospital last July. In both instances, the PA spokesman issued denials regarding illnesses Abbas supposedly had and insisted that his medical condition was satisfactory. Abbas himself, in an interview with Palestinian television on February 22, said he was in good health," it added.
Meanwhile, Palestinian activists opposed to Abbas’ regime claim that he’s ill and getting worse. A non-confirmed claim circulated on social media that he was suffering from cancer of the digestive system.
He did however cut down his work hours over the past year, as people around him say he seems to be getting more short-tempered and argumentative with his aides and other senior PA officials.
The report also addressed the political aspect of Abbas' health saying his behavior seems to indicate that the PA, and his leadership, are facing a crisis.
The main reason for that is the bad relationship with the Trump administration and US clearly sided with Israel with regard to its diplomatic dispute with the Palestinians. This US position is accompanied by other moves that could undermine the Palestinian economy, like pushing the Taylor Force law and the plan to reduce support for UNRWA.
PA security agencies continue to coordinate with the Israeli forces and the Shin Bet security service, according to Abbas’ orders.
But as his health gets worse, the battle among the many candidates hoping to succeed him will intensify with nearly 10 Palestinian politicians and security officials seeing themselves worthy of the job.
Israel is concerned that the internal tension will impact the degree to which the PA security services will work to prevent attacks on the Israeli forces and civilians in the West Bank.
Palestinian presidency denies Abbas has any illnesses and says he is in good health, with sources close to the president saying he was never ill.
However, sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that he is very tired.
"For his age, he works a lot and does not get a good deal of rest, let alone the political pressure on him," indicated the sources, adding that his doctors had advised him to rest, stop smoking, sleep more and take some time off if possible.
The presidency's confirmation of Abbas's good health comes in the face of rising rumors, and with increased focus on Mahmoud al-Alul, 68, who was elected a year ago as Abbas' vice-president, but other candidates are strongly present as well.