Israelis are continuing to say prayers for their ailing leader – at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, in the country’s synagogues and outside the Hadassah hospital where Ariel Sharon lies.
But even if he does not recover, the premier’s political legacy seems assured, with fresh opinion polls further boosting his recently-formed Kadima party.
It is projected to win up to 45 seats in the March elections, crushing its rivals Labour and Likud.
Veteran politician Shimon Peres has signalled he does not wish to become prime minister again, although opinion polls indicate the party would do particularly well with him at the helm.
That leaves the way clear for the popular acting premier Ehud Olmert, a centrist and staunch Sharon ally.
Sharon walked out of Likud in November, feeling it had veered too far to the right. His founding of Kadima was strongly backed by Peres.
The redrawing of Israel’s political map has not helped Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu. His party is tipped to win even fewer seats than Labour.