The Palestinian Authority's representative in France says a diagnosis of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's illness will not be available until he undergoes a series of tests that could take several days. Mr. Arafat was admitted Friday to a French military hospital after being airlifted from his headquarters in the West Bank.
There is tight security around the Percy Military Hospital in the southwestern Paris suburb of Clamart. And there is a tight lid on information coming out of the hospital, too. None of the doctors treating Mr. Arafat has spoken to the news media.
But Leila Shahid, who represents the Palestinian Authority in France, told reporters outside the hospital that, though the veteran Palestinian leader is thought to be suffering from gastric flu, it could be more complicated than that.
"President Arafat has been suffering from an intestinal flu for the past two weeks, but, obviously, there is more to it than that," said Ms. Shahid.
Ms. Shahid adds that it will take a few days before doctors finally offer up a diagnosis on the 75-year-old Palestinian leader's illness.
"Now the exams will take many days … the professor who is in charge of all his medical treatment here will need several days before he can finish all the examinations and decide on a real diagnosis," she explained.
Ms. Shahid says Mr. Arafat is grateful that France has allowed him to be treated in one of its best hospitals. The Percy facility specializes in blood diseases and cancer. She says the Palestinian leader arrived at the hospital in good spirits.
"He arrived in good shape," she noted. "Conscious. I talked to him. He expressed his appreciation and his thanks to the French government for having allowed him to be in a proper hospital."
French officials say President Jacques Chirac himself made the decision to admit Mr. Arafat to a French hospital after a sudden deterioration in the Palestinian leader's health. France has traditionally maintained good relations with the Palestinians.
But not all French people seem to like the idea of having Mr. Arafat on French soil. A small group of demonstrators outside the hospital said they held the Palestinian leader responsible for attacks against Israeli civilians and protested that the French government should not be paying for Mr. Arafat's medical care.
The anti-Arafat protesters were outnumbered by scores of well-wishers waving Palestinian flags who said they were anxiously awaiting word on the details of Mr. Arafat's condition.