TEL AVIV (Dec. 18)
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was rushed to the hospital after he suffered a mild stroke. Doctors said he was in good condition Sunday night and would be released from the hospital soon.
Sharon, 77, briefly lost consciousness en route to the hospital, reports said.
Officials at Hadassah Ein-Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem announced that Sharon was doing well.
“He has remained conscious” and “is speaking with his family and members of his staff,” said Dr. Yuval Weiss, the hospital’s deputy manager. “We expect he will be released soon.”
It is unclear how Sunday night’s events will affect the political scene.
Sharon recently caused a political earthquake by breaking away from Likud to set up a new centrist party called Kadima for elections scheduled for March 28.
Despite the many members it has pulled in from across the political spectrum, Sharon is the undisputed leader of Kadima. Polls have shown the party with a substantial lead over Labor and Likud.
If Sharon is too ill to actively campaign or in general is seen as weak because of his hospital stay, it is not clear how the party would fare.
Despite his age and obesity, Sharon has been relatively healthy.
After his hospitalization, Israel’s airwaves were full of discussion over who would take over if Sharon were incapacitated.
If that were to happen Vice Premier Ehud Olmert would take over the government.
In an apparent attempt to downplay speculation about the illness, Olmert did not leave a soccer game in Haifa when word reached him of Sharon’s condition.
Meanwhile, Likud voters go to the polls Monday to vote in primaries to select a new party leader. The leading contenders are former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom.
Sharon will continue to undergo medical tests, doctors said.
Israel Television reported that doctors expected he would be released by Monday.