Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will return to Ramallah on Thursday following what his associates called a “routine” medical checkup in Germany, Abbas’s office announced on Wednesday.
“President Mahmoud Abbas has completed his previously scheduled medical examinations in Germany,” the Palestinian presidency said in a statement. “The president is in good health and will return to the homeland on Thursday.”
Abbas was accompanied to Germany by Palestinian intelligence chief Majid Faraj, reportedly to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Abbas, 85, a longtime smoker, has a history of health issues, ranging from heart trouble to a battle with prostate cancer more than a decade ago.
“This is a routine examination prepared in advance for President [Abbas], and it has been postponed for more than two weeks,” said Fatah Secretary-General Jibril Rajoub earlier this week.
The Palestinian leader’s repeated health woes in recent years have led to fears of a power struggle should he be unable to continue as PA president.
Rumors regarding Abbas’s health have been rampant, and Palestinian officials have worked to tamp down unconfirmed reports and keep his health issues out of the public eye.
In February 2018, Abbas underwent medical checks, including a biopsy, at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, according to Rajoub.
“He had a minor health problem. So he did a check. The doctors took a biopsy from him and we now know he has nothing wrong,” Rajoub said at the time.
Abbas has not appointed a PA vice president or moved to create such a role. Since 2005, when Abbas was elected to a four-year term, the Palestinians also have not held PA presidential elections.
An incapacitated Abbas could also complicate planned Palestinian parliamentary elections in the West Bank. The Palestinians are set to head to their first national vote in 15 years on May 22, when Abbas has decreed Palestinian legislative elections.