Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas was recently caught badmouthing several countries, including the United States and his Arab neighbors, during a profanity-laced rant that raises new concerns about the 85-year-old leader's deteriorating health.
The Arabic language rant is renewing speculation that Abbas—who is overweight and a heavy cigarette smoker—is in poor mental and physical health as he carries out his 16th year in office. His government is under great strain amid monumental regional shifts that have seen Israel make peace with its traditional Arab foes.
When asked by an unidentified attendee at the Fatah political party's April 19 meeting what his message to China is on the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party, Abbas went ballistic.
"Fuck the c—t of China with a shoe!" Abbas screamed, according to an independent Arabic translation of his remarks provided to the Washington Free Beacon. "That good for you?"
After pausing for a few seconds, Abbas continued yelling: "And Russia, America, and all the Arabs. What's wrong with you? All of you go to hell!"
Leaked audio recording of Mahmoud Abbas cussing out Russia, the Arabs, and China (Fatah Central Committee meeting April 19,2021) pic.twitter.com/bLngjLMXl8
— Fadi Elsalameen فادي السلامين (@Elsalameen) April 22, 2021
The rant raises new questions about Abbas's health ahead of Palestinian elections scheduled for late May. The president's age and deteriorating health have been a much-discussed topic in the Israeli and Arab media for years, and it still remains unclear who is poised to succeed him. Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been mostly dormant in the wake of Israel's landmark peace agreements with leading Arab nations, including the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
Jonathan Schanzer, a Middle East expert and vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said Abbas is under "immense pressure" and may be reaching his breaking point. Israel's newfound peace with Abbas's traditional Arab allies also could be fueling his anger.
"Abbas has been under immense pressure to hold elections after being marginalized for the last four years by former president Donald Trump and a number of Arab states," Schanzer said. "He has felt alienated. Now he is boxed in. He is lashing out."
The leaked audio of Abbas was posted on social media by the Palestinian-American pro-democracy advocate Fadi Elsalameen, a frequent critic of Abbas and his ruling regime. Elsalameen recently faced death threats from Abbas-backed terrorists due to his efforts to reform the Palestinian government.