JERUSALEM – Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who has been in a coma for three months, will be declared permanently incapacitated Tuesday, a decision that signals the official end of his tenure as Israel's leader, the Justice Ministry said Sunday.
Sharon, 78, was declared temporarily incapacitated after he lapsed into a coma following a stroke Jan. 4. Ehud Olmert stepped in for him immediately as acting prime minister, but under Israeli law he can only serve in that capacity for up to 100 days before an official replacement for Sharon has to be named.
That deadline expires Friday, but because the weeklong Jewish Passover holiday begins Wednesday, the declaration of permanent incapacitation has been moved up to Tuesday — with the proviso that it not take effect if Sharon's condition improves before the deadline, Justice Ministry spokesman Jacob Galanti said.
Olmert, who won March 28 elections, is expected to be named Sharon's official replacement as he continues negotiating with smaller parties to form a governing coalition.
Officials at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, where Sharon is being treated, said Sunday that discussions were still under way on whether to move him to a long-term care facility. Experts say his chances of recovery are extremely slim, given the gravity of his stroke and his persistent coma.
Hospital spokesman Ron Krumer defined Sharon's condition as "serious, but stable," a reflection that his life is not in immediate danger.
Last week, Sharon underwent surgery to restore a part of his skull removed in previous operations after his stroke.