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Palestinian Prime Minister Hospitalized After Heart Attack

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad underwent an operation in Texas after suffering a heart attack, his spokesman, Jamal Zakout, said.

A stent was inserted after tests showed blockage in Fayyad’s left coronary artery, his office said in a statement posted by the Wafa news agency. He’s expected to be released today, Adrienne Lallo, a spokeswoman for Seton Hospital in Austin, Texas, where Fayyad was taken, said in an e-mail. Fayyad, 59, was in Texas to attend his son’s graduation from the University of Texas at Austin.

A former World Bank and International Monetary Fund official, Fayyad was brought in as finance minister in 2002, when Yasser Arafat ruled the Palestinian Authority, to fight corruption and waste. He isn’t a member of the Fatah party and ran as an independent in 2006 legislative elections.

“There’s a reason that Salam Fayyad was considered a breath of fresh air: He made it unambiguously clear that he was more interested in building up Palestine than tearing down Israel,” said David Makovsky, director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s Project on the Middle East.

Future Role

Fayyad has led the statehood-building process in the countdown to September, when Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has said he will ask the United Nations to recognize a Palestinian state.

It isn’t clear if Fayyad will continue as prime minister in a new government expected to be formed following the reconciliation agreement signed this month between Abbas’s Fatah party and the Islamic Hamas movement that rules the Gaza Strip. The U.S., European Union and Israel regard the militant group Hamas as a terrorist organization.

Fayyad earned his doctorate in economics from the University of Texas at Austin and worked at the International Monetary Fund from 1987 to 2001.

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