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Archive for Sunday, November 7, 2004

Arafat not in coma, spokesman says

Qureia meets with 13 major Palestinian factions

November 7, 2004

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— Yasser Arafat was not in a coma but remained in intensive care Saturday after undergoing more medical tests, a senior aide to the ailing Palestinian leader said. Test results were expected within days.

Nabil Abu Rdeneh, Arafat's spokesman, would not say whether his announcement meant Arafat had emerged from a coma or whether he had not been comatose at all. He also refused to say whether he saw Arafat personally, and he did not specify the nature of the new medical tests.

"He is not in a coma," Abu Rdeneh told reporters after coming out of the French military hospital where Arafat has been treated for more than a week. "He is still in the intensive care unit.

"He is under strict medical observance. We hope that in the coming few days we will be able to know exactly what he is suffering from. So far, nobody could diagnose the situation," he said at about midnight, adding that Arafat's condition was stable.

"Right now he is sleeping."

Doctors have not yet made public any diagnosis, but the Palestinian envoy to France, Leila Shahid, said Friday that the 75-year-old Arafat was in a coma and "at a critical point between life and death."

Earlier, hospital spokesman Gen. Christian Estripeau described Arafat's condition as unchanged from Friday, when he said there had been no change -- for better or worse -- in his health.

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia, in a bid to preserve calm, made a rare visit to the Gaza Strip for talks with rival Palestinian groups.

Qureia met for four hours with representatives of the 13 major Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, as well as security chiefs, lawmakers and officials of Arafat's Fatah faction. Such a broad gathering is extremely rare.

Palestinian schoolchildren pass by a painting of Palestinian leader
Yasser Arafat as they walk in the main road between Rafah and Khan
Younis, southern Gaza Strip. Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed
Qureia travelled to the Gaza Strip on Saturday for talks with rival
Palestinian groups aimed at preserving calm during Yasser Arafat's
absence, Qureia's office said.

Palestinian schoolchildren pass by a painting of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat as they walk in the main road between Rafah and Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip. Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia travelled to the Gaza Strip on Saturday for talks with rival Palestinian groups aimed at preserving calm during Yasser Arafat's absence, Qureia's office said.

He was accompanied by Parliament Speaker Rauhi Fattouh, who would step in as a caretaker president of the Palestinian Authority if Arafat dies.

An Israeli newspaper reported today that Qureia asked Hamas to halt operations inside Israel to forestall Israeli retaliations and allow a new Palestinian leadership to establish itself.

Arafat first fell ill nearly a month ago with symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea. He was flown to France from his West Bank compound in Ramallah a week ago after briefly passing out. On Wednesday, his condition deteriorated and he was moved to an intensive care unit.

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