A senior Muslim cleric who visited ailing Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in a French hospital Wednesday says his condition is "very difficult," but he says Mr. Arafat is still alive.
Tayseer al-Tamimi says he read verses of the Koran at the bedside of Mr. Arafat, who remains in a deep coma and has been on life support since Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Palestinian officials are preparing to announce they will accept an Egyptian offer to hold an official funeral service for Mr. Arafat in Cairo. A spokesman for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has confirmed that funeral planning is under way.
Israel says it will permit Mr. Arafat to be buried at his leadership compound in Ramallah. Interior Minister Avraham Poraz says Israeli Arabs and West Bank Palestinians will be allowed to attend. Gaza participation will be limited to a small number of dignitaries.
Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.