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Quick Takes: News From Israel You May Have Missed

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was discharged from a Jerusalem hospital after reportedly suffering a minor stroke, with top aids repeatedly stating the prime minister suffered no damage, that his condition will not affect his ability to govern or run in upcoming elections, and that he can return to work within days.

But several stroke experts told WorldNetDaily that a minimum of several weeks of rehabilitation are necessary for the vast majority of minor stroke sufferers and that an immediate return to work was not recommended. They also said the prime minister may be at risk of recurring strokes.

Stanley Myers, vice-chair of the Columbia University department of rehabilitation medicine said, “It is important for Sharon to lay off serious stressful situations for at least a short period of time. He needs to avoid making big decisions right now.”

Henya Storch, a New York-based nurse specializing in stroke victims who previously coordinated stroke treatment for the Lubavitcher Rebbe, said normal symptoms following minor strokes include difficulty swallowing, impaired speech, problems with word retrieval and memory, trouble walking, paralysis and impairment of motor skills.

Storch said because Sharon is extremely overweight, he might be prone to several other complications, including bed sores and ulcers.

Richard Zorowitz, associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Pennsylvania, said it is “almost unheard of to send even the most minor of stroke patients back to work within days. At least a week, usually two or three, are needed.”

Zorowitz said a significant percentage of stroke sufferers are at risk for a repeat stroke within 90 days.

Little is known about Sharon’s exact medical condition. The Prime Minister’s Office refuses to release Sharon’s medical records or the results of radiation and imaging tests conducted this week. Multiple Israeli commentators from across the political spectrum have called Kadima a “one man party” and have warned a deterioration in Sharon’s health prior to March elections could negatively impact the party’s chances.

* * * *

Just days after Sharon denied statements to Newsweek by his principle campaign pollster that he intends to divide Jerusalem if he wins in upcoming elections, a senior minister and close Sharon ally refused to answer whether she would support relinquishing parts of the holy city to the Palestinians.

“My parents’ friends demand that I promise to say there won’t be a Palestinian state and that I promise to fight and prevent its establishment, but I’m not saying it,” said Justice Minister Tzipi Livni at a community gathering this past weekend.

Livni then repeatedly refused to respond to a question posed by a reporter about whether she would support splitting Jerusalem to create a Palestinian state.

Since Sharon’s formation of Kadima, a number of party members have stated their goal is to change Israel’s borders.

Top Kadima adviser Eli Landau recently said Sharon’s “decision [to form a new party] stems from his desire to bring the state ofIsrael to permanent borders during his term of office … He knows that this step will be a dramatic one.”

* * * *

The U.S. House of Representatives last Friday passed a resolution calling for a halt in funding to the Palestinians if Hamas wins upcoming parliamentary elections, but the American government is currently in the process of funding a Gaza town run by Hamas.

The U.S. Agency for International Development, in conjunction with the Islamic Development Bank, reportedly contributed $392,000 for construction of roads and public facilities in Bani Suhaila, a village outside the populated Palestinian city of Khan Yunis.

Hamas earlier this month won 13 out of 14 seats in Bani Suhaila’s local municipal elections. According to Israeli security sources, the terror group has long maintained a civilian infrastructure in the area consisting of Hamas-owned shopping centers, medical clinics and other public facilities. Dr. Mahmoud al-Zahar, Hamas’s Gaza chief, told WND his group is “absolutely in charge in Bani Suhaila. The Palestinian people have voted and told us in an open and fair manner that they want us to represent them and their interests.”

Anna Litvak, a public affairs officer for U.S. AID’s regional headquarters in Tel Aviv, said development of Bani Suhaila was in the works long before Hamas won the town’s elections. Asked if her agency will call off its Bani Suhaila development initiatives now that Hamas rules the municipality, Litvak replied, “The fact that the project is now located in a municipality run by Hamas doesn’t change things.”

* * * *

The father of Zachary Baumel, an American-born Israeli soldier who was captured by Syrian forces 23 years ago, is filing a lawsuit against the Syrian government for abduction and illegal imprisonment.

The move follows the release of new information indicating Baumel is being held in Syria, and comes after several failed attempts by Baumel’s father, Yona, to appeal directly to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The suit utilizes the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which contains a provision that allows U.S. citizens to sue governments supporting terrorism and collect judgments from any foreign governmental assets on American soil.

Yona Baumel and associate Stuart Ditchek previously tried to involve the Israeli government in their campaign. The two met with Sharon last September and were promised a letter stating Sharon supports their efforts to press for Zachary’s release, but the letter has not yet been written. Sources close to Sharon told WND the prime minister is reluctant to get involved.

“Bashar Assad is on his way out. Israel doesn’t want to give him the ability to make a gesture. And Sharon thinks if Assad offers to release Zach Baumel, Israel will be asked by the U.S. to make a similar gesture toward Assad,” said a political source.

Countered Ditchek: “The U.S. has made very clear they do not want to do anything that would help Syria. So Sharon’s excuse doesn’t make sense to me. Israel would not be pressured into anything. Releasing Zachary would be a one-way humanitarian gesture on the part of Syria.”

Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief for WorldNetDaily.com. He is a co-host of ABC Radio’s nationally syndicated John Batchelor Show and can be heard regularly on American radio.

About the Author: Aaron Klein is a New York Times bestselling author and senior reporter for WND.com. He is also host of an investigative radio program on New York's 970 AM Radio on Sundays from 7 to 9 p.m. Eastern. His website is KleinOnline.com.


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