As less than two months are left for the Palestinian elections, President Mahmoud Abbas is in good health and is set for a comeback to the occupied West Bank following a medical check abroad. On Wednesday, the news came from the presidential office as the 85-year-old leader flew to Germany on Monday for a regular medical examination.
Abbas joined public proceedings in contemporary days and there was no hint that he was ill. He also received the first shipment of a coronavirus shot last month. However, the long-time Palestinian leader is a heavy smoker with a history of heart complications. In 2018, he was also admitted to the hospital with pneumonia, while he was treated in the United States during a voyage to address the United Nations Security Council the same year.
Abbas’s medical exam comes weeks before the first Palestinian elections in 15 years are set to take place. Legislative elections are programmed for May 22, with a presidential vote scheduled on July 31.
The Palestinians last cast a vote in 2006, when the Hamas group won in a landslide in parliamentary elections.
Abbas, who was voted as President of the Palestinian Authority following the death of Yasser Arafat in 2004, has not yet declared whether he will run again.
His official decree ran out in 2009 but he has been ruling by declaration since then. He has never chosen an inheritor and numerous senior members of Fatah are alleged to be eyeing the position.
The secular Fatah party, which reins over the West Bank, is facing internal challenges from dissenting factions, including the Freedom List, led by Nasser al-Qudwa, a nephew of the late Arafat.
Freedom has been recognized by Marwan Barghouti, a prevalent leader who is allocating multiple life sentences in Israel on the custody of organizing fatal attacks during the second Palestinian Intifada during 2000 and 2005.
Abbas’ former Gaza security chief, Mohammed Dahlan, who is presently in exile in Abu Dhabi, is also supporting a list of challengers. Former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, an ex-World Bank official with a track record of fighting corruption, is supporting his own group.