Ariel Sharon is in intensive care in a Jerusalem hospital after undergoing more than seven hours of surgery. The Israeli prime minister suffered a major stroke and a massive brain haemorrhage.
Earlier the director of the Hadassah university hospital said his condition was stable but severe. Professor Shlomo Mor-Yosef said Sharon had had two rounds of surgery and that his bleeding had stopped.
Doctors at the same institution treated him last month after he suffered a minor stroke. They told the overweight 77-year-old, who has been under a great deal of political pressure over the past year, to diet and exercise more.
The prime minister was brought to the hospital from his ranch in the Negev desert in southern Israel last night.
He had complained of pains but reportedly at first insisted he felt well enough to stay at home.
Sharon’s functions have been transferred to Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. His disappearance from the political landscape would be an earthquake for Israel and the wider region. The general election is just two months away and Sharon’s new Kadima party was tipped to do well.
It is a centrist group which reflects the Israeli consensus on the Gaza withdrawal and some form of territorial compromise with the Palestinians in the West Bank.
However, analysts say it is really a one-man show which, without Sharon, will go nowhere.