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Palestinian leader stable after heart attack in Texas

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad suffered a heart attack while visiting the United States but is stable, a Palestinian government spokesman said Monday.
Image: Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad addresses a news conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah on May 2. ABBAS MOMANI / AFP - Getty Images
/ Source: NBC News and news services

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad suffered a heart attack while visiting the United States but is stable, a Palestinian government spokesman said on Monday.

Fayyad, an internationally respected former World Bank economist, was in Austin, Texas, where he was attending his son's university graduation, when he "felt a strong pain" on Sunday, spokesman Ghassan Khatib told Reuters from Ramallah.

Fayyad's future as prime minister has been up in the air following a reconciliation deal struck this month between the Fatah Palestinian faction that governs the West Bank and the Hamas Islamist faction that holds sway in the Gaza Strip.

Fayyad, a heavy smoker, underwent tests showing a blockage in a coronary artery, Jamal Zakout, the prime minister's spokesman told the Associated Press. 

Doctors performed a catheterization to open the artery, Zakout said, adding that Fayyad is expected to leave the hospital in two days.

A spokeswoman for the Seton Family of Hospitals, Adrienne Lallo, described Fayyad as being in "good" condition on Monday, NBC News reported.

Fayyad has been prime minister since 2007. He was appointed after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas fired then-Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, following the violent Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip.

Fayyad, a political independent, is based in the West Bank, while Hamas continues to control Gaza. Fayyad could lose his job as a result of a recent reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Abbas' Fatah movement.

Fayyad has developed close ties with Western leaders, who would like him to stay on as prime minister. The Palestinians receive hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid every year, and Fayyad has won praise for his efforts to build a Palestinian state from the ground up.