Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has been hospitalized after suffering a mild stroke. As Robert Berger reports from VOA's Jerusalem bureau, it happened at an inopportune time politically.

Mr. Sharon was rushed to the hospital and taken in on a stretcher, after he felt ill at his office and briefly lost consciousness. Dr. Yuval Weiss says the prime minister suffered a mild stroke but quickly recovered and is in stable condition.

"Prime Minister Ariel Sharon arrived at Hadassah Medical Center at 8 o'clock p.m. He's in full conscious[ness], undergoing medical examination," he said.

Dr. Weiss said Mr. Sharon will be released from the hospital soon.

The prime minister's sudden health troubles come as he begins a grueling election campaign, seeking a third term as the nation head to the polls on March 28. He called elections last month, after quitting his hawkish Likud party and forming a moderate new centrist party.

"He is very much a sort of central and sort of unique character in Israeli politics," said Jerusalem Post editor David Horowitz. "And that, of course, a) adds to the strain on him and b) it means that if like you have like this evening a case where he is taken ill, well, the implications potentially are very far reaching."

Mr. Sharon is way ahead in the polls and seems unbeatable. After pulling Israel out of the Gaza Strip in August, he is widely seen as the only man able to lead the nation to the next step - further withdrawals from parts of the West Bank. But at 77 and overweight, the prime minister's age and health are suddenly a major factor.