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Ariel Sharon Suffers Major Stroke: Uri Avnery & Rabbi Michael Lerner Discuss the Future
In Israel, the country's prime minister Ariel Sharon is fighting for his life after he suffered a significant stroke last night. Doctors say he is now in an intensive care unit after undergoing nine hours of surgery to stem bleeding in his brain. Even if he survives, the 77-year-old is not expected to ever regain leadership of the country.
In Israel, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is clinging to life in after suffering a massive stroke and brain hemorrhage. Doctors say the stroke caused severe bleeding in the brain and paralyzed half his body. This is Shlomo Mor-Yosef, director of Hadassah University Hospital.
* Prof. Shlomo Mor-Yosef, Hadassah Hospital Director General.
There is no word on how much damage the bleeding may have caused. But Israel Radio reported : "The assessment is that Sharon is in a life-threatening state." Sharon's hospitalization comes less than three weeks after he suffered a mild stroke and one day before he had been scheduled for a heart operation. Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is acting as Sharon's interim replacement. Olmert spoke at an emergency cabinet meeting earlier this morning.
* Ehud Olmert, Acting Israeli Prime Minister
Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Sharon has been one of the most dominant political figures in Israel's history. He has been involved in each of Israel's major wars dating back to its founding in 1948. As Prime Minister, Sharon has overseen Israel's disengagement from the Gaza Strip. The Gaza disengagement caused a serious rift in Sharon's Likud party, which led to his departure from Likud last month. Sharon has formed a new party, Kadima, which wants to maintain the Gaza disengagement but keep Israeli control over the major settlement blocs in the occupied West Bank. Kadima has been leading polls for national elections scheduled for late March.
Among Palestinians, Sharon is one of the reviled political figures in the history of the Israel-Palestine conflict. He is seen as the father of the settlement movement and the architect of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, which killed a reported 20,000 Palestinian and Lebanese. An Israeli commission of inquiry found Sharon had "personal responsibility" for the massacre of over 1,000 Palestinian refugees at the Sabra and Shatila camps in Lebanon in 1982.
* Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei
The news of Sharon's condition was greeted with a different reaction from many Palestinian civilians. This is Mahmoud Al-Hwareh, a resident of Gaza.
* Mahmoud Al-Hwareh, a resident of Gaza
Joining us on the phone is Uri Avnery, an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He is a former member of the Israeli parliament and was a member of the rightwing Irgun underground in the 1940s. He speaks to us from Tel Aviv.
We;re also joined by Michael Lerner. Rabbi Lerner is rabbi of Beyt Tikkun and the editor of TIKKUN magazine: A Bimonthly Jewish Critique of Politics, Culture and Society. He speaks to us from California.
* Uri Avnery, an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. Speaking from Tel Aviv. He is a former member of the Knesset and was a member of the rightwing Irgun underground in the 1940s.
* Michael Lerner, Rabbi Lerner is rabbi of Beyt Tikkun and the editor of TIKKUN magazine: A Bimonthly Jewish Critique of Politics, Culture and Society.