Israel's Peres 'critical but stable' after stroke

Former Israeli president Shimon Peres is sedated and breathing with a respirator at a hospital near Tel Aviv.
Former Israeli president Shimon Peres is sedated and breathing with a respirator at a hospital near Tel Aviv.

JERUSALEM • Former Israeli president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Shimon Peres showed some improvement but remained in critical condition yesterday after he had a major stroke, his hospital said.

"He is still in a critical condition, stable, but we can see some improvement," Dr Yitzhak Kreiss, director of the Sheba Medical Centre at Tel HaShomer in Ramat Gan, told reporters outside the hospital near Tel Aviv.

The 93-year-old was still sedated and breathing with a respirator, but doctors were seeking to reduce sedation to evaluate him and he was occasionally awake, Dr Kreiss said. Concern has mounted over the condition of Mr Peres, widely respected as a statesman both in Israel and abroad, after his stroke on Tuesday.

Mr Peres has held nearly every major office in the country, including prime minister twice and president, a mostly ceremonial post, from 2007 to 2014.

The highlight of his career came in 1994 when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with the late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for his role in negotiating the Oslo accords with the Palestinians.

Mr Peres' personal physician and son-in-law, Mr Raphy Walden, said the former president's chances for survival were "pretty good", with no immediate threat.

He said that Mr Peres was responsive during treatment overnight. "When we lessened the sedation, he woke up - not completely but definitely was responsive to our appeals to him," he said. "He squeezed my hand and was definitely listening and understanding what was happening."

Mr Kreiss had late on Tuesday described Mr Peres as having suffered a "major stroke with a component of bleeding". He was sedated in the intensive care unit and was breathing with the help of a respirator. Doctors later decided not to operate for the time being.

Dr Zeev Feldman, president of the Israeli Neurosurgical Association and involved in Mr Peres' treatment, said "the fact that he regained consciousness gives us some cautious optimism".

"Some situation may happen and that is why he is in intensive care," he said.

Mr Peres' son Chemi told journalists late on Tuesday that "we are going to have to take difficult decisions apparently later, but not yet".

"Myself and my family members are going through difficult times, difficult hours," he said.

"I know that my father does not care about anything as much as he cares about people, as much as he cares about Israel, the Jewish people and the people in Israel.

"And I will take this opportunity on his behalf to send all of you his love."

Statements of concern flooded in from across the political spectrum and dozens of journalists gathered outside the hospital, Israel's largest, awaiting word on his condition.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had spoken with the director of the hospital to receive an update, a spokesman said. "The Prime Minister conveyed the prayers of the entire nation for a quick recovery," his office said.

Mr Netanyahu said on his Twitter account: "Shimon, we all love you." President Reuven Rivlin said in a statement he was "following with concern the updates from the hospital, and praying together with the entire people for my friend Shimon's recovery."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 15, 2016, with the headline 'Israel's Peres 'critical but stable' after stroke'. Print Edition | Subscribe