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(photo credit: Eli Neeman)
Labor MK Binyamin Ben- Eliezer was discharged on Sunday from Assaf Harofeh Medical Center in Tzrifin after nearly six weeks, during which he suffered from serious pneumonia and had to be put under anesthesia with a respirator for treatment of his lung condition.
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After regaining consciousness – and being able to breathe on his own after a week of care by Prof. Zvi Vered and his team – Ben-Eliezer’s condition improved enough for him to be discharged. At a press conference with his medical team, Ben-Eliezer said the work they did was “holy,” and credited them for “bringing me back from death to life.”
Ben-Eliezer, 75, said he did not intend to retire from the Knesset, where he has been serving since 1984 following a long military career.
He said he wanted to return to politics inside his Labor Party, and aid in its recovery.
“I intend to return to political life in stages – little by little,” Ben-Eliezer said. “What is happening in the state is important to me. I will do everything possible with my last energy to justify coming back to life.”
He said that when he was fighting for his life, he had dreams about Labor regaining its strength, and also coming back to life.
Asked about reports that leaving the cabinet – and the split in Labor that former party chairman Ehud Barak organized behind his back – harmed his health, Ben-Eliezer replied, “Come on, I’m stronger than that. I have been in Labor since 1984. I saw all the fights between [former Labor rivals Yitzhak] Rabin and [current president Shimon] Peres, so such things don’t move me anymore.”
Ben-Eliezer is expected to be a main force behind the scenes in the September 12 Labor primary between MKs Isaac Herzog, Shelly Yacimovich and Amir Peretz, who will formally join the race at a press conference on Tuesday.
The oldest MK, Ben-Eliezer has served as minister of defense, communications, construction and housing, national infrastructures, and industry, trade and labor.
He did not rule out running for president when Peres’s term ends in three years.
Ben-Eliezer thanked people for their good wishes and prayers, and noted that at one point during his hospitalization, “they thought I wouldn’t last through the night.”
He also endorsed the efforts of doctors who were on strike.
Known for being among the Knesset’s most portly MKs, Ben-Eliezer has been put on a strict diet, and has vowed to stop eating steak.
“From now on, it’s just yogurt,” he promised.Judy Siegel contributed to this report.