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Arafat's condition assessed -

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Arafat's condition assessed

Reporter: Jane Hutcheon

TONY JONES: And we're joined now by our Middle East correspondent Jane Hutcheon in Jerusalem.

Jane, it sounds like Arafat may be hospitalised very soon.

What's the latest you're hearing on his condition?

JANE HUTCHEON: That's right Tony.

I understand that he has been visited by doctors from Jordan.

He, of course, has his own own medical entourage and I understand a decision has been made to move
him to a hospital first first in Ramallah where his condition will be assessed there.

Not exactly sure what time he's going to be moved.

It is apparently being done in conjunction with Israeli officials and the army, so there is plenty
of cooperation going on here.

But he is likely to be moved to a hospital in the next few hours.

TONY JONES: If he were taken outside of Israel or the West Bank for treatment, would the Israeli
government let him back in?

They've threatened not to in the past?

JANE HUTCHEON: That's right.

They have actually said he's free to go anywhere for medical treatment, even if he wants an Israeli
doctor or an Israeli hospital to tend to him, they're willing to allow that.

But they've kept very mum on whether he would be allowed back after the treatment is finished.

So, that is, of course, not unsurprising since they've said in the past they actually want to
assassinate him.

But whether they'll allow him back after treatment is another question and that's probably why
doctors at this stage have opted for a Ramallah hospital.

TONY JONES: Jane, all of this, of course, raises yet again the Palestinian succession issue and
Arafat has kept so much power in his own hands over the years.

What are they going to do if he dies?

JANE HUTCHEON: Well, obviously those kind of talks are going on at the moment.

He is not the only office holder in the Palestinian Authority of course.

There is also the Fatah leadership of which Abu Mazen, the former prime minister, is still an
office holder.

Obviously, his powers have now been diverted to other people.

Other people are running the Palestinian Authority.

But he is such a larger-than-life character.

He has ruled, he has led the Palestinian people for more than 40 years and the idea of anyone
actually succeeding him in the same way as a president as a chairman, it's very difficult to know
who could fill those shoes.

TONY JONES: OK, Jane we'll leave you there and obviously keep in touch over the next few days as
this unfolds.