Arafat not in coma but ‘sleeping’ in intensive care, spokesman says
CLAMART, France – 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 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.
“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.”
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 officials of Arafat’s Fatah faction. Such a broad gathering is extremely rare.
An Israeli newspaper reported Sunday that Qureia asked Hamas to halt operations inside Israel to forestall Israeli retaliations and allow a new Palestinian leadership to establish itself.