Sharon Recovering From Stroke Described As 'Mild'

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:16 PM EDT

Jerusalem ( - Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is said to be recovering in a Jerusalem hospital on Monday after suffering what doctors called a mild stroke. Sharon was rushed to the hospital after telling his son Gilad that he did not feel well on Sunday evening.

The 77-year-old prime minister's health has now become an issue in the upcoming Israeli elections and it puts another question mark over the future Israeli-Palestinian relations.

The prime minister's office issued a statement early Monday on Sharon's condition.

"Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had a restful night and his condition continues to be good. He will, early this morning [Monday] undergo additional tests and evaluations by the doctors at Jerusalem's Hadassah-Ein Kerem Hospital; his future treatment will be decided accordingly," the statement said.

"The prime minister remained conscious during the incident and treatment," said David Baker, an official in Sharon's office. "During the treatment last night the prime minister felt better and was conversing with his staff."

According to Baker, Sharon never transferred his authority to another government official.

According to reports, Sharon does not appear to have suffered any permanent damage from the stroke. His aides insisted that his health is good and that the attack will not affect his performance, reports said.

"The prime minister continues to function and feels well," Baker said on Monday.

But with Israeli general elections less than four months away, Sharon's health becomes, for him, an unwelcome focus.

Sharon is overweight and walks with a limp from an old war injury.

Sharon quit the Likud party last month to form the new Kadima party, which so far has one agenda: to reach an accord with the Palestinians.

According to opinion polls, Kadima is set to win more seats in the Knesset in elections on March 28, something that would make Sharon the oldest incumbent prime minister ever to serve Israel.

Sharon said that he left the Likud because he wanted to reach an accord with the Palestinians and didn't see the Likud party moving in that direction.

The West had hoped that Sharon's landmark withdrawal of Israeli communities and troops from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank would jump start Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Although that has not happened, the West is still banking on Sharon to make some kind of deal with the Palestinian Authority.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has said that Sharon is the only Israeli politician that could make peace with the Palestinians.

Many Knesset members from his own Likud party joined Sharon in Kadima, as did some from the opposition Labor party. Most notably Sharon won the support of former Prime Minister and Labor Party leader Shimon Peres, who is also a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.

Nevertheless, the party is centered around Sharon and no number two has yet been named in the party.

International media gave extensive coverage to Sharon's sudden illness, offering continuous updates and even live coverage in some cases.

Sharon received calls from President Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, among others.

The Likud Party, which Sharon helped to found decades ago, is holding primary elections on Monday to elect a new party leader.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom are competing for the post. But analysts here predicted that the primaries would take on new importance.

Without Sharon, the Kadima party would likely crumble, returning the Likud and Labor parties to center stage as the two largest political contenders in Israel.

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