Sharon Hospitalized

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has suffered a “significant stroke” and has been hospitalized in Jerusalem. Sharon was due to undergo a heart procedure Thursday to repair a congenital defect that had already caused one minor stroke. Deputy PM Ehud Olmert has been assigned to lead Israel during Sharon’s illness.

If Sharon can’t return to office, Israeli politics will be thrown for a real loop. Sharon was the dominant force in his moderate Kadima Party, and it’s not clear of Kadima would survive without him. The more hawkish Binyamin Netanyahu could potential gain from a weakened or disabled Sharon, which could very well torpedo what’s left of the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.

It’s going to be a long night in Israel as doctors work to stabilize Sharon’s condition and determine the level of damage caused by the stroke at the same time the Israeli government figures out what might happen next.

UPDATE: ABC is reporting that Sharon has suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and is being operated on now. This doesn’t sound good.

UPDATE: Omri Ceren is offering continuous updates from Israel

UPDATE: More updates from Omri Ceren can be found here. Sharon’s condition doesn’t look good – even if he does survive, it’s highly doubtful that he’d be in any condition to campaign in March, and the chances of him being able to last through a third term as Prime Minister seems slim. This is terrible moment for the Sharon family and the people of Israel.

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