As Ariel Sharon recovers from another round of surgery Israeli authorities have clarifed his leadership status and the role of interim prime minister, Ehmed Olmert.
The country’s Attornery-General has ruled Sharon cannot be declared permanently incapacitated under Israeli law for another three months. Doctors have performed a tracheostomy on the comatose leader, the first step in weaning him of a respirator.
The ruling ensures Olmert will remain interim prime minister until Israel’s general election on March 28.
Olmert is expected to be named chairman of Sharon’s centrist Kadima party this week. The prime minister formed it after quitting the Likud party to push for an end to conflict with the Palestinians.
Olmert and his cabinat colleagues have approved voting in Arab East Jerusalem in the Palestinian parliamentary election later this month. But they have banned the militant Hamas group from fielding candidates there.