Former Israeli president and Noble Peace Prize Laureate Shimon Peres’ is showing signs of improvement after suffering a stroke. It is the third time the 93-year-old has been hospitalized over the past year. Peres was sedated and breathing through a respirator, the director of the Sheba Medical Center, Yitshak Kreiss, said on Thursday. His son-in-law, Rafi Walden, told reporters it was too soon to tell whether there was going to be any lasting neurological damage from the stroke, which reportedly affected the right side of Peres’ brain.
The 93-year-old was reportedly responsive to simple prompts. Doctors have decided not to operate on the elderly statesman for the time being.
Peres’ son Chemi told journalists earlier in the week that the family way going to “have to take difficult decisions apparently later, but not yet.”
All eyes on Peres
Peres had been hospitalized twice before this year. In the first instance, the hospital said he had suffered a “mild cardiac event” resulting in catheterization to widen an artery. He was rushed to hospital a second time days later with chest pains and an irregular heartbeat.
Statements of concern came in from across the Israeli political spectrum, as dozens of journalists gathered outside Israel’s largest hospital, located just outside Tel Aviv, awaiting word on his condition.
Incumbent Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Peres’ bedside and told reporters that he felt relief over his improvement.
The last of Israel’s founding fathers, Shimon Peres has held nearly every major office in the country, serving twice as prime minister for the Labor Party and later president, a largely ceremonial role, from 2007 to 2014. His political career spans nearly 70 years.
Peres won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 along with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat for his role in negotiating the Oslo accords. As a staunch Zionist he had previously rejected peace with the Arab world but over the years became a figurehead for peace, representing moderate views in Israel.
Regardless, Peres is also seen as a key driving force in the development of Israel’s undeclared nuclear program, having served as the director general country’s defense ministry when he was only 29 years old.
ss/kms (AFP, AP, Reuters)