Israeli Leader Fights for Life Following Stroke

His doctors said they plan to keep him sedated for another 24 hours, while outside experts say his chances of recovery are slim.

Dr. Shlomo Mor-Yosef, director of Jerusalem’s Hadassah hospital: “The prime minister’s condition is … still critical but stable.”

Experts agree that a blood thinner prescribed following Sharon’s minor stroke three weeks ago did not cause the blood vessel in Sharon’s head to burst, but that the bleeding would probably not have been so severe if he had not been taking the medication, according to the Associated Press.

For now, Sharon’s authorities have been transferred to Vice Premier Ehud Olmert, marking the first time an Israeli prime minister has relinquished authority because of illness.

In Israel, rabbis called Jews to synagogues to say special prayers. “The Last Battle” was the headline of the daily newspaper Yediot Ahronot.

In Washington, President Bush said, “We are praying for his recovery. … Sharon is a man of courage and peace.”

But some of his critics were looking forward to a future without the fiery Israeli leader. “The whole region will be better off with him absent,” the Palestinian group Hamas said, according to the AP.

Israeli ultranationalist Michael Ben-Horin, a member of the anti-Arab Kach group that opposed the Gaza Strip settler pullout orchestrated by Sharon, said, “The angels listened to our prayers.”

The 11th prime minister of Israel, Sharon has been in office since 2001.