Middle East

Shimon Peres: Former Israeli president 'responsive' after stroke

Former Israeli President Shimon Peres delivers a statement to the media as he is discharged from a hospital near Tel Aviv, on 19 January Image copyright Reuters
Image caption In January, Mr Peres underwent a minor surgery following a small heart attack

Former Israeli President Shimon Peres is responsive after suffering a serious stroke, his doctor says.

Mr Peres, 93, is being sedated and ventilated in a hospital near Tel Aviv to let his brain recover, his son-in-law and personal physician said.

Dr Rafi Valden said Mr Peres squeezed his hand when the sedation was reduced, appearing to be "awake and listening".

His condition was "critical but stable", his doctor added, and there was "no imminent threat to his life".

Mr Peres was taken to hospital for examination on Tuesday after suffering from a headache.

While there, he had a stroke in the right side of the brain, Dr Valden said.

His neurological condition was still unknown but chances of survival were seen as "pretty good".

'Certain optimism'

Doctors at the Sheba Medical Centre had "certain optimism", Dr Valden added, after seeing that Mr Peres was "reactive and responsive" following a temporary reduction of his sedation on Wednesday.

"I talked to him and asked him to press my hand and he did so vigorously and we are definitely convinced that he is awake and listening and reacting," he told journalists.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mr Peres is one of Israel's most popular figures and his condition is being closely followed by the media and public

Doctors would try to reduce the medication again later on Wednesday to check his responsiveness, he said.

His son, Chemi, earlier said the family was going through some "difficult hours".

"I'm optimistic. I'm a great believer in my father. He's a unique person. And I pray with all my heart, together with my family, that things will improve from this point on," he said.

In January, Mr Peres underwent successful minor surgery at the same hospital after suffering a small heart attack.

After being discharged, he told reporters he was "so happy to return to work, that was the whole purpose of this operation".

A veteran politician

As one of Israel's most popular figures, his condition is being closely followed by the media and the public.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted: "Shimon, we love you and the entire nation is wishing for your recovery,"

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Peres (centre) shared the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize for his part in negotiating a peace deal with the Palestinians

A veteran politician, Mr Peres has held almost every major political office since Israel was founded in 1948, and was the architect of Israel's secret nuclear programme.

He twice served as prime minister and was president from 2007 to 2014.

He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 for his role negotiating the Oslo peace accords with the Palestinians a year earlier, a prize he shared with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was later assassinated, and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Despite his age, Mr Peres has maintained an active public schedule, mostly through his non-governmental Peres Centre for Peace, which promotes closer ties between Israel and the Palestinians.

Hours before his hospitalisation, Peres uploaded a video to his Facebook page urging people to buy local products.

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