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Israeli PM's Condition Deteriorates


Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was taken back into the operating room for the third time on Friday after doctors performed a brain scan on him. The medical developments came as new polls in Israel show Mr. Sharon's newly formed Kadima Party could win upcoming elections without Mr. Sharon.

Doctors rushed Ariel Sharon back into the operating room after a brain scan indicated renewed bleeding on his brain. Dr. Shlomo Mor-Yosef, the Director of Jerusalem's Hadassah Hospital says Mr. Sharon's blood pressure also dropped on Friday.

"Just at the time of the CT scan indicated that intra-cranial pressure was higher than expected," the doctor explained. "There were some changes in the blood pressure of the prime minister. In the CT scan we demonstrated enlargement of the ventricle of the brain and one spot of bleeding. All this turned into a decision to take the prime minister into the operating room in order to reduce the intra-cranial pressure."

Mr. Sharon's two sons Omri and Gilad are at his bedside on Friday. Mr. Sharon has been widowed twice.

Government offices were closed at midday on Friday in preparation for the Jewish Sabbath observances. Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and other senior government officials are said to be monitoring Mr. Sharon's condition closely.

Friday's medical developments occurred as several overnight polls indicated Mr. Sharon's newly formed Kadima Party could still win Israeli elections on March 28.

Still unresolved is who will lead the party following Mr. Sharon's departure, but polls show many Israelis would support Ehud Olmert as a new party leader.

Joshua Teitelbaum of the Moshe Dayan Center and a professor at Tel Aviv University says the polling data will likely change by Election Day.

"As far as polls go I think you have to take them with a grain of salt," he said. "I think what you have now is a bit of a sympathy vote. It may be that they lose support in a couple of days or weeks. This Kadima Party was really Sharon's party in every way, so without Sharon I think you will see it lose support after the sympathy vote dissipates."

Polls taken just before Mr. Sharon's massive stroke on Wednesday showed him a heavy favorite to win re-election to a historic third term as prime minister of Israel.