Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will turn over his duties to his deputy during a heart procedure later this week, his office said Tuesday.

Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will assume the duties for about three hours Thursday while Sharon is given a general anesthetic and doctors seal a small hole in his heart. The hole was discovered after Sharon's mild stroke on Dec. 18.

Sharon, 77, suffered no permanent damage, and the procedure will virtually eliminate the risk of a similar stroke, doctors said.

He is expected to be hospitalized for 24 hours.