Palestinian officials have issued video footage of President Yasser Arafat, apparently smiling and sitting up in bed surrounded by the medical team treating him in his West Bank compound. Described as seriously ill, Arafat is being treated by a team of foreign doctors after his health first took a turn for the worse on Wednesday when he was stricken with severe stomach pains. .
His wife Suha has flown in from Paris to join him. She and his medical team are reported to have decided Arafat is to be immediately flown to Paris for more extensive medical treatment. His wife lives in France and has not seen her husband since a Palestinian revolt against Israel broke out in 2000. Arafat, whose health has visibly deteriorated recently, has been suffering from Parkinson’s for some time. Officials said that on Wednesday he collapsed in his West Bank compound and remained unconscious for about ten minutes, though they also report that he has been able to eat and talk and say his prayers. Arafat has gone from guerrilla war icon to Nobel prize-winning peacemaker to a shunned old leader mired in an insoluble Middle East conflict. He has long been known for his knack of thriving on crisis. He has survived a plane crash, assassination attempts and the Israeli siege of his Beirut headquarters.