Sparky: Gahh! Robertson plays the Nutjob card again ...
January 6, 2006Christian
fair use / photo from Jamie-Andrea Yanak/Associated Press
televangelist Pat Robertson
has come under fire for recent comments he made, suggesting that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
's recent stroke was "divine retribution
" for pulling Israelis out of the Gaza Strip
. Robertson made the comments on his show, The 700 Club
, which is produced by Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network
"God considers this land [Israel] to be His. When you read the Bible, He said 'This is my land.' For any Prime Minister of Israel who decides he will carve it up and give it away, God said, 'No, this is Mine,'" said Robertson. "I would say woe to any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the EU, the United Nations, or the United States of America."
Robertson tempered his comments, adding that that Sharon is "a very tender-hearted man and a good friend" and that he has prayed alongside the former prime minister. A spokesperson for Robertson said he "expresses his deep sadness over Ariel Sharon’s life threatening stroke and concern for Israel’s future security."
Reverend Barry W. Lynn, director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State didn't agree with Robertson's comment.
"[A religious leader] should not be making callous political points while a man is struggling for his life," said Lynn. "Pat Robertson has a political agenda for the entire world, and he seems to think God is ready to take out any world leader who stands in the way of that agenda."
The White House immediately distanced itself from Robertson's comments.
"Those comments are wholly inappropriate and offensive and really don't have a place in this or any other debate," said Deputy Press Secretary Trent Duffy during a media gaggle aboard Air Force One.
Angell Watts, a spokesperson for Robertson, who is an ordained minister and bible teacher, said that "Robertson is simply reminding his viewers what the Bible has to say about efforts made to divide the land of Israel."
This isn't the first time Robertson has created rifts among conservatives. In late 2005, he called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. He also has made charged comments regarding the residents of Dover, Pennsylvania after a proposal to teach intelligent design in public schools was defeated.
Robertson says he is a Southern Baptist. He is also a former nomination for the Republican party presidential candidate in 1988.
Related News Sources
- "White House Criticizes Pat Robertson". Associated Press, January 6, 2006
- Even Pat Robertson's Friends Are Wondering... New York Times, January 6, 2006
- "Robertson slammed by White House for comments". Associated Press, January 6, 2006
- "White House Rebukes Robertson". CBS, January 6, 2006
- WTKR-TV "Spokesperson Addresses Pat Robertson's Comments On Ariel Sharon". WTKR-TV, January 6, 2006
- "Pat Robertson". Wikipedia, January 6, 2006
- "Robertson Spokesperson Addresses Comments Made by Pat Robertson Regarding Ariel Sharon". Christian Broadcasting Network, January 6, 2006
- Robertson's Sharon comment stirs up controversy January 6, 2006
- Robertson suggests God smote Sharon CNN January 6, 2006
- Quote of the Week: John Kerry on Pat Robertson January 6, 2006
Quote of the Week: John Kerry on Pat Robertson
"It is beyond shocking to think that as Prime Minister Sharon fights for his life, Pat Robertson would attack his character and disparage the risks Ariel Sharon took to bring peace and security to Israel.
At a time like this, you'd expect bigoted tin-horn dictators and petty thugs like President Ahmadinejad of Iran to attack Sharon, but no American who claims to be a leader should stoop so low.
Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised to hear such venom from someone who claimed Hurricane Katrina was punishment for the people of New Orleans." --- 2004 Presidential Candidate, US Senator John Kerry (D-MA) on January 6, 2006
: ????? ????) (born February 27
) is the eleventh and current Prime Minister of Israel
, serving from March 2001. A long-serving Israeli
political and military leader, he was a founding member and former head of the Likud party
, and previously served for over thirty years in the Israeli Defense Forces
, rising to the rank of Major General
, and achieving fame within Israel for his actions in the 1967 Six Day War
and the 1973 Yom Kippur War
. In late 2005, he broke from Likud and founded a new party, Kadima
, which is currently garnering support through public campaigns in anticipation of the election of a new Knesset
in March 2006. It is the first time in recent Israeli history that the Knesset race is between three major parties (Kadima, Likud, and Labor
) as opposed to the usual two (Likud and Labor).
Sharon has been a highly controversial figure, both in and outside Israel. Supporters sometimes refer to him as Arik or The Bulldozer and view him as a leader who strove to establish peace without sacrificing Israel's security. Many Israelis consider him a war hero who helped defend the country during some of its greatest struggles. Critics sometimes refer to him as "the Butcher of Beirut" and sought to prosecute him as a war criminal for his indirect responsibility over the Sabra and Shatila massacre during the 1982 Lebanon War.
Sharon was hospitalized on December 18, 2005 after reportedly suffering a minor ischemic stroke. He was released from the hospital on December 20. During his hospital stay, Sharon was also diagnosed with a minor hole in his heart and was scheduled to undergo a cardiac catheterization to fill the hole in his atrial septum on January 5, 2006. On January 4, 2006, 22:50 Israel Time (UTC+2), Sharon suffered a massive hemorrhagic stroke, with bleeding in the brain, and was evacuated by ambulance to Hadassah hospital, Jerusalem, to undergo brain surgery. His prognosis was reported as "extremely bleak" after the surgery and he was placed on a ventilator in intensive care. Hadassah director, Professor Shlomo Mor-Yosef, reported at 14:00 Israel Time, following the seven-hour surgery, that the bleeding had stopped: "all the parameters are according to expectations after an operation of this type." The doctors estimate his chances for recovery as being "very low." Another surgery was undertaken the following day, as well as a third more minor surgery. On January 6, 17:50 Israeli Time, Mor-Yosef reported "significant improvement" in the reduction of intracranial pressure which was threatening to do further damage. Sharon's condition remains "stable, but still critical". Another official report is expected on January 7, no sooner than 18:00 Israeli Time (16:00 GMT, 11:00 EST).
On the night of Sharon's stroke, in the wake of his serious illness, and following consultations between Government Secretary Israel Maimon and Attorney General Meni Mazouz, the Prime Minister was declared "temporarily incapable of discharging his powers", and Ehud Olmert, the Deputy Prime Minister, was officially confirmed as the Acting Prime Minister of Israel. Olmert and the Cabinet have announced that the elections will take place on March 28 as scheduled.
Sharon was born Ariel Scheinermann February 27, 1928 to a Jewish father of German-Polish origin, Shmuel, and a Jewish mother, of Russian origin, Dvora (Vera) , in Kfar Malal, in the British Mandate of Palestine. Sharon's parents were Second Aliyah veterans, that is, socialists with a secular worldview, but with a willingness to both compromise and fight. They were not afraid to go against their neighbors' prevailing views:
- The Scheinermans' eventual ostracism... followed the 1933 Arlozorov murder when Dvora and Shmuel refused to endorse the Labor movement's anti-Revisionist calumny and participate in Bolshevic-style public revilement rallies, then the order of the day. Retribution was quick to come. They were expelled from the local health-fund clinic and village synagogue. The cooperative's truck wouldn't make deliveries to their farm nor collect produce. 
In 1942 at the age of 14, he joined the Gadna, a paramilitary youth battalion, and later the Haganah, the underground paramilitary force and the Jewish military precursor to the Israel Defense Forces. At the creation of Israel (and Haganah's transformation into the Israel Defense Forces), Sharon was a platoon commander in the Alexandroni Brigade. Sharon was severely wounded in the groin by the Jordanian Arab Legion in the Second Battle of Latrun, an unsuccessful attempt to relieve the besieged Jewish community of Jerusalem. His injuries eventually healed.
In September 1949, he was promoted to company commander (of the Golani Brigade's reconnaissance unit) and in 1950 to intelligence officer for Central Command. He then took leave to begin studies of history and Middle Eastern culture at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. A year and a half later, he was asked to return to active service in the rank of major and as the leader of the new Unit 101, Israel's first special forces unit.
Unit 101 undertook a series of retaliatory raids against Palestinians and neighboring Arab states that helped bolster Israeli morale and fortify its deterrent image. However, the unit was also criticized for targeting civilians as well as Arab soldiers, notably in the widely condemned Qibya operation in the fall of 1953, in which 69 Palestinian civilians, half of which were women and children, were killed by Sharon's troops in a reprisal attack on their West Bank village. In the documentary "Israel and the Arabs: 50 Year War" Ariel Sharon recalls what happened after the raid, which was heavily condemned by many countries in the West, including the U.S.:
- I was summoned to see Ben-Gurion. It was the first time I met him, and right from the start Ben-Gurion said to me: "Let me first tell you one thing: it doesn't matter what the world says about Israel, it doesn't matter what they say about us anywhere else. The only thing that matters is that we can exist here on the land of our forefathers. And unless we show the Arabs that there is a high price to pay for murdering Jews, we won't survive."
Shortly afterwards, just a few months after its founding, Unit 101 was merged into the 202nd Paratroopers Brigade (Sharon eventually became the latter's commander), which continued to attack military targets, culminating with the attack on Qalqilyah police station in autumn 1956.
Sharon has been widowed twice. Shortly after becoming a military instructor, he married his first wife, Margalith, with whom he had a son, Gur. Margalith died in a car accident in 1962. Gur died in October 1967 after a friend shot him while they were playing with the elder Sharon's rifle.    After Margalith's death, Sharon married her younger sister, Lily. They had two sons, Omri and Gil'ad. Lily Sharon died in 2000.
In the 1956 Suez War (the British "Operation Musketeer"), Sharon commanded the 202nd Brigade and was responsible for taking ground east of the Sinai's Mitla Pass and eventually taking the pass itself. Having successfully carried out the first part of his mission (joining a battalion paratrooped near Mitla with the rest of the brigade moving on ground), Sharon's unit was deployed near the pass. Neither reconnaissance aircraft nor scouts reported enemy forces inside the Mitla Pass. Sharon, whose forces were initially heading east, away from the pass, reported to his superiors that he was increasingly concerned with the possibility of an enemy thrust through the pass, which could attack his brigade from the flank or the rear.
Sharon asked for permission to attack the pass several times but his requests were denied although he was allowed to check its status so that if the pass was empty, he could receive permission to take it later. Sharon sent a small scout force which was met with heavy fire and became bogged down due to vehicle malfunction in the middle of the pass. Sharon ordered the rest of his troops to attack in order to aid their comrades. In the ensuing successful battle to capture the pass more than forty Israeli soldiers were killed. Sharon was not only criticized by his superiors, he was damaged by revelations several years later by several former subordinates (one of IDF's first major revelations to the press), who claimed that Sharon tried to provoke the Egyptians and sent out the scouts in bad faith, ensuring that a battle would ensue. Deliberate or not, the attack was considered strategically reckless because the Egyptian forces were expected to withdraw from the pass in the following one or two days.
Six-Day War and Yom Kippur War
The Mitla incident hindered Sharon's military career for several years. In the meantime, he occupied the position of an infantry brigade commander and received a law degree from Tel Aviv University. When Yitzhak Rabin (who within a few years became associated with the Labour Party) became Chief of Staff in 1962, however, Sharon began again to rise rapidly in the ranks, occupying the positions of Infantry School Commander and Head of Army Training Branch, eventually achieving the rank of Major General (Aluf). In the 1967 Six-Day War, Sharon commanded the most powerful armored division on the Sinai front which made a breakthrough in the Kusseima-Abu-Ageila fortified area. In 1969, he was appointed the Head of IDF's Southern Command. He had no further promotions before retiring in August 1973. Soon after, he joined the right-wing Likud political party.
Sharon' s military career was not over, however. At the start of the Yom Kippur War on October 6, 1973, Sharon was called back to duty and assigned to command a reserve armored division. His forces did not engage the Egyptian Army immediately but it was Sharon who helped locate a breach between the Egyptian forces, which he then exploited by capturing a bridgehead on October 16 and throwing a bridge across the Suez Canal the following day. He violated his orders from the head of Southern Command by exploiting this success to cut the supply lines of the Egyptian Third Army, located to the south of the canal crossing, isolating it from other Egyptian units.
The divisions of Sharon and Abraham Adan (Bren) passed over this bridge into Africa advancing to within 101 kilometers of Cairo. They wreaked havoc on the supply lines of the Third Army stretching to the south of them, cutting off and encircling the Third Army, but could not force its surrender before the cease-fire. Tensions between the two generals followed his decision, but a military tribunal later found his action was militarily effective. This move was regarded by many Israelis as the turning point of the war in the Sinai front. Thus, Sharon is viewed by some as a war hero who saved Israel from defeat in Sinai. A photo of Sharon wearing a head bandage on the Suez Canal became a famous symbol of Israeli military prowess.
Sharon's aggressive political positions were controversial and he was relieved of duty in February 1974.
Sabra and Shatila massacre
- Main articles: Sabra and Shatila massacre
During the 1982 Lebanon War, while Ariel Sharon was Defense minister, the Sabra and Shatila massacre took place, in which between 460 and 3,500 Palestinian civilians in the refugee camps were killed by Lebanese Christian forces under the command of Lebanese Maronite Phalange militia. The Security Chief of the Phalange militia, Elie Hobeika, was the ground commander of the militiamen who entered the Palestinian camps and killed the Palestinians. The Phalange had been sent into the camps to clear out PLO fighters, and Israeli forces had been sent to the camps at Sharon's command to provide them with logistical support and to guard camp exits.
The Israeli Kahan Commission investigating these massacres recommended in early 1983 the removal of Sharon from his post as Defense minister. In their recommendations and closing remarks, the commission stated:
- We have found, as has been detailed in this report, that the Minister of Defense [Ariel Sharon] bears personal responsibility. In our opinion, it is fitting that the Minister of Defense draw the appropriate personal conclusions arising out of the defects revealed with regard to the manner in which he discharged the duties of his office - and if necessary, that the Prime Minister consider whether he should exercise his authority under Section 21-A(a) of the Basic Law: the Government, according to which "the Prime Minister may, after informing the Cabinet of his intention to do so, remove a minister from office."
Sharon was dismissed by Prime Minister Menachem Begin but he remained in successive governments as a Minister.
In 1987, TIME magazine published a story implying Sharon was directly responsible for the massacres. Sharon sued Time for libel in American and Israeli courts. Time won the suit in the U.S. court because Sharon could not establish that Time had "acted out of malice", as required under the U.S. law, although the jury found the article false and defamatory. 
On June 18, 2001, relatives of the victims of the Sabra massacre began proceedings in Belgium to have Ariel Sharon indicted on war crimes charges . In June 2002, a Brussels Appeals Court rejected the lawsuit because the law was subsequently changed under heavy U.S. pressure to disallow such lawsuits unless a Belgian citizen is involved.  (original: )
When Sharon joined Begin's government he had relatively little political experience. He avoided Begin's Herut party in the 1940s and 1950s and seemed to be personally devoted to the ideals of Mapai, and then Labor. However, after retiring from military service, Sharon was instrumental in establishing the Likud in July 1973. The Likud was comprised of Herut, the Liberal Party and independent elements. Sharon became chairman of the campaign staff for the elections which were scheduled for November 1973. But two and a half weeks after the start of the election campaign, the Yom Kippur War erupted and Sharon was called back to reserve service (see above). In December 1973 Sharon was elected to the Knesset, but a year later he tired of political life and resigned.
From June 1975 to March 1976, Sharon was a special aide to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. With the 1977 elections near, Sharon tried to return to the Likud and replace Menachem Begin at the head of the party. He suggested to Simcha Ehrlich, who headed the Liberal Party bloc in the Likud, that he was more fitting than Begin to win an election victory; but he was rejected. Following this he tried to join the Labour Party and the centrist DASH, but was rejected in those parties too. Only then did he form his own list, Shlomtzion, which won only two Knesset seats in the subsequent elections. Immediately after the elections he merged Shlomtzion with the Likud and became Minister of Agriculture.
During this period, Sharon supported the Gush Emunim settlements movement and was viewed as the patron of the messianic settlers' movement. He used his position to encourage the establishment of a network of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories to prevent the possibility of the return of these territories to Palestinian Arabs. Sharon doubled the number of Jewish settlements on the West Bank and Gaza Strip during his tenure.
After the 1981 elections, Begin rewarded Sharon for his important contribution to Likud's narrow win, by appointing him Minister of Defense. (See above for further information about Sharon's tenure as Minister of Defense.)
After being dismissed from the Defense Minister post for failing to anticipate and prevent the Sabra and Shatila massacre, Sharon remained in successive governments as a Minister without portfolio (1983–1984), Minister for Trade and Industry (1984–1990), and Minister for Housing Construction (1990–1992). During this period he was a rival to then prime minister Yitzhak Shamir, but failed in various bids to replace him as chairman of the ruling Likud party. Their rivalry reached a head on the "Night of Microphones" in February 1990, when Sharon snapped the microphone from Shamir, who was addressing the Likud central commitee, and famously exclaimed: "Who's for wiping out terrorism?". The implication was that only Sharon knew how to destroy the scourge and whoever deemed this as important should support him. The incident was widely viewed as an apparent putsch attempt against Shamir's leadership of the party.
In Benjamin Netanyahu's 1996–1999 government, he was Minister of National Infrastructure (1996–1998), and Foreign Minister (1998–1999). Upon the election of the Barak Labor government, Sharon became leader of the Likud party. After the collapse of Barak's government, he was elected Prime Minister in February 2001.
According to the Palestinians, Ariel Sharon has followed an aggressive policy of non-negotiation. Palestinians allege that the al-Aqsa Intifada (September 2000–February 2005) was sparked by a visit by Sharon and an escort of several hundred policemen to the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount complex, site of the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque. Sharon's visit, prior to his election as Prime Minister, came after archeologists claimed that extensive building operations at the site were destroying priceless antiquities and a few months before the election. While visiting the site, Sharon declared that the complex would remain under perpetual Israeli control. Palestinian commentators accused Sharon of purposely inflaming emotions with the event to provoke a violent response and obstruct success of delicate ongoing peace talks.
Sharon's supporters claim that Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority planned the intifada.    . They state that Palestinian security chief Jabril Rajoub provided assurances that if Sharon did not enter the mosques, no problems would arise. They also often quote statements by Palestinian Authority officials, particularly Imad Falouji, the P.A. Communications Minister, who admitted months after Sharon's visit that the violence had been planned in July, far in advance of Sharon's visit, stating the intifada "was carefully planned since the return of (Palestinian President) Yasser Arafat from Camp David negotiations rejecting the U.S. conditions." According to the Mitchell Report, the government of Israel asserted that
- the immediate catalyst for the violence was the breakdown of the Camp David negotiations on 25 July 2000 and the “widespread appreciation in the international community of Palestinian responsibility for the impasse.” In this view, Palestinian violence was planned by the PA leadership, and was aimed at “provoking and incurring Palestinian casualties as a means of regaining the diplomatic initiative.”
The Mitchell Report, based on a subsequent investigation, also found that the Sharon visit did not cause the Al-Aqsa Intifada, though it was poorly timed and would clearly have a provocative effect.
Palestinians doubt the existence of popular support for Sharon's actions. Polls published in the media, as well as the 140% call-up of reservists (as opposed to the 60% in regular periods) seem to indicate that the Israeli public is quite supportive of Sharon's policies. A survey conducted by Tel Aviv University's Jaffe Center in May 2004 found that 80% of Jewish Israelis believe that the Israel Defense Forces have succeeded in militarily countering the Al-Aqsa Intifada,  indicating widespread faith in Sharon's hard-line policy.
On January 20, 2004, an Israeli court charged property developer David Appel with trying to bribe Sharon (through his son Gilad) while Sharon had served as Israel's National Infrastructure Minister in the 1990s. On June 14, 2004, Israel's Attorney General, Meni Mazouz, decided to close the case due to lack of evidence and prosecutorial misconduct.
President Bush and Prime Minister Sharon meet in the White House on 14 April 2004
On July 20, 2004, Sharon called on French Jews to emigrate from France to Israel immediately, in light of an increase in French anti-Semitism (94 anti-Semitic assaults reported in the first six months of 2004 compared to 47 in 2003). France has the third largest Jewish population (about 600,000 people), after Israel and the United States. Sharon claimed that an "unfettered anti-Semitism" reigned in France. The French government responded by describing his comments as "unacceptable", as did the French representative Jewish organization CRIF, which denied Sharon's claim of intense anti-Semitism in French society. An Israeli spokesperson later claimed that Sharon had been misunderstood. France has indefinitely postponed a visit by Sharon.
While some believe that his recent efforts have been damaging to the peace process, he has embarked on a risky course of unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, while maintaining control of its coastline and airspace. It has been welcomed by both the Palestinian Authority and the left-wing in Israel, as well as by many abroad, including the United States and the European Union, as a step towards a final peace settlement. However, it has been greeted with opposition from within his own Likud party and from other right-wing Israelis, on security, military, and religious grounds. Other detractors have publicly distrusted Sharon's motives for this plan, and their suspicions were further roused when top Sharon aide Dov Weisglass was quoted in Haaretz on October 6, 2004, as saying the purpose of disengagement was to destroy Palestinian aspirations for a state for years to come. This incident has bolstered the position of critics that Sharon is intentionally trying to destroy the peace process, an accusation denied by the Prime Minister's camp. See Israel's unilateral disengagement plan of 2004.
On December 1, 2004, Sharon dismissed five ministers from the Shinui party for voting against the government's 2005 budget. In January 2005 Sharon formed a national unity government that included representatives of Likud, Labour, and Meimad and Degel HaTorah as "out-of-government" supporters without any seats in the government (Haredi parties usually reject having ministerial offices as a policy). Between August 16 and August 30, 2005, Sharon controversially expelled 8,500 Jewish settlers from 21 settlements in Gaza. Once it became clear that the evictions were definately going ahead a group of extreme right-wing Rabbis, led by Rabbi Yosef Dayan placed an ancient curse on him calling on the Angel of Death to intervene and kill him. After Israeli soldiers bulldozed every settlement structure except for several former synagogue buildings, Israeli soldiers formally left Gaza on Sunday, September 11, 2005 and closed the border fence at Kissufim. The synagogues were later looted and burned to the ground by miscreants. While his decision to withdraw from Gaza sparked bitter protests from right wing members of the Likud party and the settler movement, opinion polls showed that it was a popular move among most of the Israeli electorate. On September 27, 2005, Sharon narrowly defeated a leadership challenge by a 52-48% vote. The move was initiated within the central committee of the governing Likud party by his main rival, Binyamin Netanyahu, who had left the cabinet to protest Sharon's withdrawal from Gaza. The measure was an attempt by Netanyahu to call an early primary in November 2005 to choose the party's leader.
Founding of Kadima
On November 21, 2005, Sharon resigned as head of Likud, and dissolved parliament to form a new centre-right party called Kadima ("Forward"). November polls indicated that Sharon was likely to be returned to the prime ministership. On December 20, 2005, Sharon's longtime rival Binyamin Netanyahu was elected his successor as leader of Likud . Netanyahu, along with Labor's Amir Peretz, are to be Kadima's chief rivals in the March 2006 elections.
- Main articles: Illnesses of Ariel Sharon,
has news related to this article:
In December 2005, Sharon spent two days in the hospital following reports of a minor stroke, specifically a relatively unusual type of stroke called a paradoxical embolism, in which a clot from the venous circulation crosses over into the arterial circulation through a hole between the right and left atrium called a patent foramen ovale or an atrial septal defect and goes to the brain, causing a transient speech and motor disturbance. He was to have had the small hole in his heart repaired by a cardiac catheterization procedure in January 5. 
However, on January 4, 2006, Sharon was again rushed to the hospital from his ranch, KHavat HaSHikmim, which is in the Negev region, apparently due to another stroke. Although Sharon was reported to be in stable condition, his doctors are calling this stroke "significant", adding that he "suffered a cerebral hemorrhage," which is bleeding in the brain. Sharon underwent seven hours of surgery to stop the bleeding and drain the accumulated blood. Sharon is currently recovering from his surgery in the hospital's intensive care unit, and is reported to be in critical (life-threatening) but stable condition. Earlier in the day, members of the media incorrectly reported that Sharon had died, after doctors at the hospital were prepared to announce his death. However, they were convinced by family and advisors to try, once again, to save his life. The extreme graveness of his situation has led some to say that his chance of survival may be extremely slim. "The complications, outside experts said, are life-threatening and make the prospect of survival still slimmer." 
On Friday, January 6, 2006 additional bleeding was detected in Sharon's brain. A third surgery was performed to try to stop this additional bleeding.
On Saturday, January 7, 2006 Sharon, unconscious and clinging to life, was in stable condition. According to one of his surgeons, Dr. Jesse Cohen, his chances for survival are "very high," but he likely will suffer some cognitive impairment. Channel 2 TV quoted Dr. Cohen as saying he was "quite optimistic" about Sharon's chances of survival, but "to say after such a severe trauma as this that there will be no cognitive problems is simply not to recognize reality."
Prime Ministerial duties were transferred to Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who is now Israel's Acting Prime Minister. In the early morning of January 5, it was reported that Sharon is not expected to fully recover, and may be partially paralyzed. 
According to the Israeli law, an Acting Prime Minister can remain in office 100 days before the President has to appoint a new Prime Minister. With the next general elections being less than 100 days from now (March 28, 2006), the question of long-term prime ministerial succession will be resolved in the ballot.
I port the Wikipedia articles as I know few of you readers follow links. I think we'll revisit Reagan the Rapist and Nixon the Red-bating Crook soon. While I can't think of a single good thing from Reagan; Nixon - for all his faults - opened up Red China without a horrible war. Life gives us paradoxical problems to vex us. Sharon is a complex person who likely was the only Israeli leader who could have detached Gaza from Israel. Shame the Egyptians won't surrender another 30 square miles of lovely Sinai desert to their former 2nd class citizens who claim to be "Palestinians" ... ah well - Sparks