Palestinian Foreign Minister Says Presidential Elections Will Be Held If Arafat Dies

November 10, 2004
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A team of senior Palestinian officials has arrived back in the West Bank after visiting the Paris hospital where Yasser Arafat is lying in a coma. We hear a statement by Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath speaking to reporters in France. [includes rush transcript]

A team of senior Palestinian officials has arrived back in the West Bank after visiting the Paris hospital where Yasser Arafat is lying in a coma.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath spoke to reporters yesterday in France about Arafat’s condition.

  • Nabil Shaath, Palestinian Foreign Minister speaking to reporters in Paris, November 10, 2004.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath speaking to reporters after visiting Arafat in France yesterday. He also added that Arafat’s nearly three-year confinement in Ramallah by Israeli forces had contributed to his poor health. Shaat was joined on his trip by Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei, PLO deputy leader Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian parliamentary speaker Rawhi Fattuh.

They have returned to Ramallah where they are due to meet political parties and factions, including Arafat"s Fatah movement and the PLO executive committee.

There has been much confusion about Arafat’s condition since he was taken to a military hospital in Paris on October 29 after suffering stomach pains. Doctors have confirmed that Arafat’s coma has deepened and that he suffered a brain haemorrhage. However, the reasons for his illness are still not clear.

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erakat confirmed Arafat would be buried in Ramallah–ending weeks of speculation. The plan has been agreed on by the Israeli government, which ruled out burying Arafat in Jerusalem.


TRANSCRIPT

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Palestinian Foreign Minister, Nabil Shaath spoke to reporters in France about Arafat’s condition.

NABIL SHAATH: Has deteriorated, especially last night, but since last Wednesday, he has been in a coma and that coma has deepened last night. Having said that, and having recognized the critical situation in which president Arafat is in today, his brain, his heart, and his lungs still function, and he is alive. The cabinet is working, functioning, and God forbids, when the time comes, if President Arafat passes away, the Speaker of the House will become interim president, and he will, with the help of all of us and the help of the international community, he will try to arrange for elections for president within 60 days.

AMY GOODMAN: Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath speaking to reporters after visiting Arafat in France yesterday. He also added Arafat’s nearly three-year confinement in Ramallah by Israeli forces had contributed to his poor health. Shaath was joined on his trip by Prime Minister Achmed Qurei, PLO deputy leader Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian parliamentary speaker Rawhi Fattuh. They have returned to Ramallah where they are due to meet political parties and factions, including Arafat’s Fatah movement and the PLO executive committee. There’s been much confusion about Arafat’s condition since he was taken to a military hospital in Paris on October 29, after suffering mysterious stomach pains. Doctors have confirmed Arafat’s coma has deepened, and that he suffered a brain hemorrhage. However, the reasons for his illness are still unclear. Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erakat confirmed Arafat would be buried in Ramallah, ending weeks of speculation. The plan has been agreed on by the Israeli government, which ruled out burying Arafat in Jerusalem.

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