Palestinian president Abbas suffering from pneumonia, condition improving: officials

Ramallah (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) –


Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas is suffering from pneumonia but his condition is improving, officials said late Monday.

"I visited President Abbas in hospital tonight. He suffers from pneumonia and is treated with antibiotics," Ahmed Tibi, an Israeli Arab member of parliament, said on Twitter, adding that the 83-year-old's condition had "markedly improved".

Appearing on official media, Saed Sarahna, the head of the Istishari Arab Hospital near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, said Abbas had an "infection in his right lung".

?He was given the necessary treatment and is now recovering,? Sarahna said.

Pictures of Abbas walking around the wards and reading a newspaper were also published, in an apparent attempt to calm rumours that his condition was critical.

Official media said he had spoken to a number of regional politicians to assure them of his health.

Tibi, who is also a doctor, said he expected Abbas to spend ?several more days? in hospital.

Abbas was admitted on Sunday with complications following an ear operation, while also complaining of chest pains.

Abbas's health is the subject of regular speculation, with no clear successor identified.

In February, he underwent what was then described as routine medical tests in the United States.

Abbas won a four-year term as president in 2005, but he has remained in office in the absence of elections.

Abbas argues the split between his Fatah party and Islamists Hamas, who control the Gaza Strip, has made elections politically impossible.

A moderate, he has been involved in decades of negotiations with Israel but is unpopular among Palestinians, with the majority wanting him to step down.