Middle East

Ariel Sharon: Doctors pessimistic over ex-PM's survival

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Media captionZeev Rotstein: "He is fighting like a lion for his life"

Doctors treating Israeli ex-PM Ariel Sharon say they are more pessimistic he will survive a deteriorating condition.

Mr Sharon, 85, has been in a coma since 2006 but worsened last week, with a malfunction of several organs including the kidneys.

Mr Sharon's heart and blood pressure were stabilised overnight but his life remains in immediate danger.

"Our estimation is that he is not getting out of this crisis," Professor Zeev Rotstein said.

"I can't say I'm optimistic this morning, and I'm possibly even more pessimistic than I was before," Prof Rotstein, of the Sheba Medical Centre near Tel Aviv, said.

He has said he believes Mr Sharon is in his final days.

"He is comfortable at this time. To the best of our understanding he is not suffering, such that we do not have to take any action to prevent him suffering," Prof Rotstein said.

Ariel Sharon became PM in 2001 and suffered a mild stroke in 2005. He went into a coma after a bigger stroke in 2006.

He has been in a persistent vegetative state since.

Having fought in four Israeli wars since the state's founding in 1948, Mr Sharon is admired by many Israelis as a great military leader, but is reviled by Palestinians.

In both the 1967 and 1973 wars, Mr Sharon led divisions that played a key role in Israeli successes.

As PM, Mr Sharon was a keen promoter of the construction of Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

He also initiated the construction of the controversial West Bank barrier following a wave of deadly attacks by Palestinian militants who were able to get into Israel.

But in 2005, despite fierce opposition in Israel, he ordered the unilateral withdrawal of Israeli troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip.

In that year, he left his Likud Party to establish the centrist Kadima Party and appeared headed for re-election when he suffered the major stroke in 2006.

Image caption Ariel Sharon fought in four Israeli wars since the state's founding in 1948

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