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Abbas undergoes health checks as uncertainty over successor remains

Abbas, whose presidential term expired in 2009, has ignored calls to appoint a successor. [Getty]

Date of publication: 30 July, 2017

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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas received a clean bill of health on Saturday after undergoing a medical check-up at a West Bank hospital.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas received a clean bill of health on Saturday after undergoing a medical check-up at a West Bank hospital.

The 82-year-old underwent blood tests and X-rays at a private hospital near Ramallah, leaving after 90 minutes.

"The results are good," hospital director, Dr. Fathi Abu Mughli told The Associated Press, but did not elaborate.

Last month, Abbas dispelled rumours he had suffered a stroke, with any health scare heightening concerns over leadership in the Palestinian Authority as no clear succession plan exists.

Abbas, whose presidential term expired in January 2009, has no plans to step down and has ignored calls to appoint a successor, setting the stage for a bitter power struggle if he is incapacitated.

The aging president is a heavy smoker and underwent an emergency heart procedure last year after suffering exhaustion and chest pains.

According to Palestinian law, if the president dies or is incapacitated the parliamentary speaker should fill in while elections are organised.

The parliament, however, has not met in nearly a decade following a 2007 schism between Hamas and Fatah, which divided the national movement between Gaza and the West Bank.

The current speaker is senior Hamas official Aziz Dweik, but it is Fatah's Central Committee, the party's top power structure, who would likely make key decisions about the next president.

Since April, the PA has carried out a series of punitive measures aimed to force Hamas to cede control of Gaza, including slashing civil servants' salaries, cutting electricity to residents, and limiting medical services and funds.

Meanwhile, a burgeoning alliance between Hamas and Mohammed Dahlan, a former Fatah leader and Abbas's arch rival, is prompting concerns among Fatah's most senior circles.

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