Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has allowed Tunisian doctors to enter Yasser Arafat’s compound in the West Bank to treat him for the flu, officials there told FOX News.
Three Tunisian doctors were headed to Arafat’s Ramallah headquarters, where the 75-year-old Palestinian leader has been confined since after the second intifada began four years ago.
“The president is in good health. He is suffering from a cold,” a Tunisian representative was quoted as saying in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. “There is nothing to worry about.”
But sources told FOX News the Palestinian Liberation Organization leader’s condition has seriously deteriorated since Friday, when Israeli TV first reported he had the flu. Palestinian sources said that if the doctors determine Arafat needs surgery he will be flown to an overseas hospital.
However, Sharon has long stated that should Arafat ever leave the West Bank compound, he will not be allowed to return. The PLO has placed part of the blame for its leader’s deteriorating health on his confinement by the Israelis.
Viewed by Washington as a major obstacle to peace in the Mideast, Arafat’s health has been the subject of much speculation since the bloody uprising began in 2000. He appears to tremble during public appearances, but his representatives have routinely denied he suffers from a nervous disorder like Parkinson’s disease.
Arafat was treated by a team of Jordanian and Egyptian doctors earlier this month for complaints including fever, severe diarrhea and vomiting, the Jerusalam Post reported. He had been ill for some time, and aides were said to be worried about his condition.
Arafat apparently still has not recovered from that illness. Haaretz reported that he was so ill on Friday that he was unable to complete the first day of prayers for the Muslim holiday of Ramadan. Aides told FOX News Arafat was fasting during the holy month, against doctors’ wishes.