Former president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Shimon Peres, the last of Israel’s founding fathers, was sedated after suffering a stroke and is breathing with the aid of a respirator.
A statement by his office on Tuesday said the 93-year-old was being treated at a hospital near Tel Aviv.
Peres, widely respected as an elder statesman both in Israel and abroad, was admitted to Sheba Medical Centre at Tel HaShomer in Ramat Gan ‘after suffering a stroke’, his office said.
After first reporting that “his condition is stable and he is fully conscious”, his office said he had been sedated and was breathing with the aid of a respirator.
The last of Israel’s founding fathers, Peres has held nearly every major office in the country, including prime minister twice and president, a mostly ceremonially post, fom 2007 to 2014.
A former hawk turned dove, the highlight of his career came in 1994, when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with Yitzhak Rabin and the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for his role in negotiating the Oslo accords with the Palestinians.
“Former president Peres’ doctors sedated and intubated him so as to best facilitate the continuation of his treatment,” his office said.
“He will undergo a CT scan so as to get a full and updated assessment of his situation.”
Speculation mounted over his condition late on Tuesday in Israel, with local media reporting that he was in serious condition, and statements of concern flooded in from the country’s politicians.
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.
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 pray together with the entire people for my friend Shimon’s recovery.”
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog also wished the elder statesman a rapid recovery.
In January, Peres was hospitalised twice for heart trouble. In the first instance, the hospital said he had suffered a ‘mild cardiac event’ and underwent catheterisation to widen an artery.
He was rushed to hospital a second time days later with chest pains and an irregular heartbeat.
He once confided that the secret to his longevity was daily gymnastics, eating little and drinking one or two glasses of good wine.
Beyond his accomplishments in the public eye, Peres was also seen as a driving force in the development of Israel’s undeclared nuclear programme.