Ariel Sharon is in a severe but stable condition. That is the latest news from the Hadassah university hospital in Jerusalem where the Israeli prime minister was taken last night having suffered a far-reaching stroke and a massive brain haemorrhage.He had two rounds of surgery, lasting around seven hours in total. His bleeding has now stopped and he remains under general anaesthetic in intensive care. Doctors say it will take at least 24 hours to ascertain what his long-term condition is likely to be. The hours on the operating table must have taken their toll on the 77-year-old who is overweight and has been under a great deal of political pressure over the last year. Medics told him to diet and exercise more after he suffered a minor stroke last month. Sharon arrived at the hospital by ambulance last night from his ranch in the Negev in southern Israel. He reportedly at first resisted efforts to take him there, insisting he felt well enough to stay at home. Sharon’s functions have been transferred to deputy prime minister Ehud Olmert. Analysts say that if Sharon dies or is left incapacitated, it will be a hugely significant moment for Israel, the Palestinians and the wider Middle East.