Arafat doesn't have leukemia: envoy
Last Updated Sat, 30 Oct 2004 16:29:37 EDT
CLAMART, FRANCE - Initial results of tests conducted on Yasser Arafat show he doesn't have leukemia as some of his officials had feared, the Palestinian envoy to France said Saturday. Doctors examining the Palestinian leader in France have excluded "for the time being any possibility" he has the blood cancer, Leila Shahid told reporters. The doctors still don't know, however, what is making him sick.
Palestinian spokesperson Leila Shahid
Arafat was admitted to a hospital southwest of Paris on Friday, two days after he collapsed at his West Bank compound and briefly lost consciousness. Shahid told reporters Arafat's condition has improved since he arrived at the Percy Army Teaching Hospital in Clamart. "He had a very good night's sleep and he woke up in a good mood and in good shape, and he feels generally better. His general condition is better."
The 75-year-old leader reportedly has a low platelet count, which prevents blood clotting and can indicate a range of illnesses, including cancer. Arafat received a transfusion of platelets after being rushed to the hospital, which specializes in blood disorders and trauma care. Appearing pale and weak, Arafat boarded a military jet and flew to Jordan early Friday morning, leaving the West Bank for the first time in more than two years. He later landed at Villacoublay military airfield, then boarded a helicopter for a 15-minute flight to the hospital.
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat blows kisses as he is helped out of a helicopter in Amman, Jordan Friday.
The decision to move Arafat came on Thursday after Israeli officials assured him they would not place restrictions on his travel. In past years, Israel had warned he wouldn't be allowed to return to the Palestinian territories if he left. Aides initially reported Arafat was suffering from gallstones or a bad case of the flu. He's also shown symptoms of Parkinson's disease since the early 1990s. Israeli officials believe he may have stomach cancer.
The longtime leader has not groomed a successor despite heavy lobbying in recent years. If he is incapacitated, many analysts expect chaos to reign while rivals jockey for his job. The executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization held its first meeting without Arafat on Saturday. Arafat's chair at the head of the table was left empty. On one side was Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia – on the other, former Palestinian prime minister Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen. Abbas, who led the meeting, is expected to temporarily take over as PLO chair. Abbas wished Arafat a speedy recovery and said the Palestinian people still need him.