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Uneasiness over Begin’s Health

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Uneasiness is growing in Israel that Premier Menachem Begin, hospitalized three times since April for heart ailments, may be too ill to discharge the duties of his office and that his physical condition could affect his political judgment. Such speculation was heightened yesterday when Begin, looking pale and weak; weak discharged from lchilov Hospital in Tel Aviv.

He was admitted to the hospital 12 days earlier suffering from fatigue brought about by overwork, the official bulletins said. But his doctors disclosed several days later that Begin was being treated for pericarditis, an inflammation of the membrane enclosing the heart. The doctors said such a condition often follows in the wake of a heart attack such as Begin suffered last April during the election campaign.

Although pronounced recovered from his heart attack, Begin was hospitalized for a week, after his election victory, for treatment of pericarditis. Both then and at the onset of his latest illness, the Premier complained of chest pains.

Given Begin’s medical history and his wan appearance as he left the hospital, it was no surprise that reporters sought out his personal physician, Dr. Shlomo Landiado, with questions about the Premier’s health. Asked why his patient looked ill, Landiado replied. “A hospital is no rest home. Have you ever seen a patient coming out after two weeks in the hospital sun-tanned and refreshed?”

PROLIFERATION OF RUMORS

The doctor dismissed as “nonsense” a story in the London Economist that said Begin’s ailment could be treated only by open-heart surgery. He said that all the Premier needed was a few more days of rest at home. Nevertheless, Begin presided at last night’s special session of the Cabinet which approved the U.S.-Israeli working paper on the Geneva conference.

But Begin’s health is row the subject of many rumors. One of the most persistent is that the medication he receives has side effects on his mental state. This raises such questions as whether the Premier’s condition has any bearing on his political judgment and to what extent is his continuance in office a gamble between Begin’s need for rest and Israel’s need for him as prime Minister. His doctors insist that Begin is fit for office. But there is an understandable uneasiness in the public mind as to whether all the medical facts have been disclosed.

Whatever information has been published on Begin’s health was at his own instructions. But with tension mounting on the international scene and the Premier hospitalized three times in five months, the public is demanding more facts.

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