Arafat in Hospital After Health Failed Last Week

French hospital officials are declining to comment on the fadinghealth of Palestinian Prime Minister Yasser Arafat, who was rushedto the Percy Military Training Hospital, outside Paris, after asharp deterioration in health last Friday.

A senior Palestinian official said Thursdaythat the 75-year-old leader had lapsed into a coma, but did notspecifically say when Arafat lost consciousness. Arafat’s conditionhas been a mystery since his arrival to the hospital, leavingPalestinians issuing conflicting reports, according to theWashington Post.

Doctors were unsure of the cause of the bloodand digestive disorders uncovered after his condition worsened onWednesday and he was rushed into intensive care.

Earlier Thursday, Palestinian officials saidthat Arafat had lost consciousness repeatedly and described hiscondition as extremely serious.

Cabinet officials Saeb Erekat called reportersafter Arafat had lapsed into a coma “baseless.” Erekat told TheAssociated Press in Ramallah that Arafat’s wife, Suha, told himArafat’s condition was “stable but difficult.”

During an emergency meeting held on Thursday,at the West Bank, Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath said top officialswere in touch with Arafat’s hospital every 30 minutes in an effortto monitor his condition.

“The Palestinian leadership is in constantmeeting to follow up on the president’s health,” Shaath said fromRamallah, where leaders of the PLO and Arafat’s Fatah movement weremeeting.

Israelis are concerned with the possibility ofchaos in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and rioting in Palestine as aresult of Arafat’s death.

Therefore, the Israeli army is on standby toput “new leaf” plan into effect, a plan to deal with the falloutfrom Arafat’s death.

Top officials, including Israeli DefenseMinister Shaul Mofaz and Army Chief Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon, were tofocus their weekly meeting on reports that Arafat’s health took asudden turn for the worse, said Israeli security officials in ameeting Thursday.