The Guardian | Arafat has suffered heart attack, admits aide

Officials tried to hide condition of president threatened by Israel

Yasser Arafat has suffered a mild heart attack but the Palestinian leadership has sought to keep his health problems secret for fear it will “create panic”.

The 74-year-old Palestinian president, who is suffering from Parkinson’s disease, disappeared from public view last week and re-emerged at the weekend looking extremely ill. His face was pale and pinched, he had lost weight and he was almost inaudible. He had trouble standing for more than a few minutes at a time.

The Palestinian press said he was suffering from flu. But Palestinian officials told the Guardian that Mr Arafat had suffered a heart attack last week. “Although he has had a slight heart attack, the doctors say he will make a full recovery. He is in full control. There is nothing to worry about,” said a close aide to Mr Arafat, who did not wish to be named.

Well, which is it? Is he still in control, or is there nothing to worry about? Can’t be both.

We can say with some certainty that the answer to the question “will he transition power gracefully to someone else?” is not in doubt, if it ever was. And that is something to worry about.

Quite aside from the fact that there’s no such thing as a “slight heart attack” at age 74.

LATER: I yield to the gentleman from Australia.