Arafat travels to France seeking emergency treatment

&to=' target=_blank>Yasser Arafat the 75-year-old Palestinian Authority president was on his way to Paris today for urgent medical treatment after doctors diagnosed him with a potentially fatal blood disorder.

The decision ended days of rumors about &to=http://' target=_blank>Arafat's health and triggered speculation about whether he might ever return to the West Bank -- and what his departure could mean for the future of the Palestinians.

Arafat agreed to travel abroad for the first time in more than two years after a two-week illness initially described as flu left him severely weakened and unable to stand.

An international team of 15 doctors said they were unable to treat him appropriately in his battered headquarters compound in Ramallah, and he reluctantly accepted an offer from French President Jacques Chirac to enter a Paris hospital today, Seattle Post Intelligencer.

According to Xinhua, because of being ill for some two weeks, Arafat was airlifted to Amman early Friday morning by a Jordanian military helicopter from his Ramallah headquarters where he has been confined by Israel for more than two years.

The ailing 75-year-old Palestinian leader left Amman's military airport aboard a French plane at around 8:00 am (0600 GMT) Fridayon his way to Paris for medical treatment.

During Arafat's absence, there would be no acting leader since the prime minister, the Palestinian Legislative Council and the PLO were all there to address the daily work, said Palestinian officials.

Outside, Ibrahim al Rafi, mayor of a nearby village, shouted his support for the 75-year-old leader: "He is a lion. The president will never die. He will always be immortal in our hearts." Inside, doctors and aides pondered what to do with the ailing president of the Palestinian Authority.

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