Netanyahu's clandestine trip to hospital fuels talk of succession

The Zionist Union submitted a bill that would require the premier to appoint a vice prime minister so it would be clear who would replace him if he is unable to function.

June 30, 2015 22:28
2 minute read.
Netanyahu Jewish Agency

Netanyahu speaks at the Jewish Agency's conference.. (photo credit: AVI OHAYON - GPO)


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The Zionist Union submitted a bill that would require Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to appoint a vice prime minister so it would be clear who would replace him if he is unable to function.

Netanyahu gave Interior Minister Silvan Shalom the title of vice premier, which has no legal significance. He declined requests by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Transportation Minister Israel Katz for the title of vice prime minister that would make them prime minister if Netanyahu were incapacitated.

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Zionist Union faction head Merav Michaeli submitted the bill on Monday night following a report on Channel 2 that Netanyahu recently underwent two medical procedures in which he was put under general anesthesia. Michaeli submitted a similar bill in the previous Knesset.

“We cannot rely on the prime minister to appoint a replacement, so he must be obligated to appoint one by law,” Michaeli said. “Thank God, Ariel Sharon appointed one or we would have been in trouble.”

The Prime Minister’s Office responded by releasing Netanyahu’s medical report, which he publishes regularly, that shows he is in good shape. Netanyahu’s associates denied that he was put to sleep and said that if he was, a temporary replacement would have been appointed as was done when Netanyahu was rendered unconscious for a procedure in the past. Sources close to Netanyahu did not address the Channel 2 report that he was secretly brought to the hospital in a pita truck.

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) – from which 65-year-old Netanyahu apparently suffers – affects half of men over the age of 50, and 75 percent by the age of 80. It is not, however, clinically significant in all of those affected. The noncancerous enlargement of the prostate is uncomfortable, forcing men to urinate frequently, especially at night. It is the result of the male hormone testosterone, which promotes an increase in the number of cells in the prostate, not growth in the size of individual cells.

Symptoms include poor flow of urine, dribbling, the sensation of poor bladder emptying and near retention, urgent urination and even the inability to pass urine. They can lead to poor sleeping and tiredness during the day. BPH can get worse, especially if left untreated, and can lead to urinary bladder stones. If urine is chronically retained, it could eventually lead to kidney failure.

Netanyahu reportedly underwent a procedure at the ultra-Orthodox and voluntary nonprofit Ma’ayanei Hayeshua Hospital in Bnei Brak, specifically the technique of Dr. Yigal Gat and Dr. Menachem Goren. It is not approved by the Health Ministry for general use but experimental, for which ministry approval as part of the Helsinki Committee on Human Medical Experimentation is required.

The doctors have said in the past that their technique involves finding an alternate route for testosterone to reach the prostate in high concentration directly from the testes.The results of this research led them to develop a method they claim treats the problem of enlarged prostate without risking impotence by dealing with the venous draining system of the testicles and prostate.

They expose the prostate to high concentrations of testosterone and use percutaneous venography and sclerotherapy of the internal spermatic vein network. It takes some two hours to carry out under local anesthesia. The procedure results in “significant declines in prostate volume,” Gat and Goren say.

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