Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Sharon Has "Life-Threatening Stroke"

From ABC News:

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a massive, life-threatening stroke Wednesday and underwent lengthy surgery to drain blood from his brain after falling ill at his ranch. Powers were transferred to his deputy, Ehud Olmert.

Doctors placed Sharon on a respirator and were trying to save his life only hours before the hard-charging, overweight, 77-year-old Israeli leader had been scheduled to undergo a procedure to seal a hole in his heart that contributed to a mild stroke on Dec. 18.

Israel Radio quoted an unidentified Israeli health official as saying that Sharon's prospects of a full recovery were slim.

Sharon's cerebral hemorrhage, or bleeding stroke, came at a time of upheaval among Palestinian factions in Gaza and in the midst of both Israeli and Palestinian election campaigns. Sharon's absence would halt momentum toward further peacemaking with the Palestinians and leave a major vacuum at the head of his new Kadima party, which was expected to head a government after the March 28 vote
Needless to say, this tragedy will throw Israel into disarray. With its leader definitely out of politics (and here's hoping that's the extent of it), the new centrist party Sharon was leading will be in grave danger of collapsing. Israel will almost certainly have an election shortly in order to determine its new head of government, but the identity of that man (and the policies that would follow) is very up in the air. It could be Peretz, or could be Netanyahu, (or perhaps even Peres), and that will lead to two (or three) very, very different Israels.

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