Ben-Eliezer attached to respirator due to pneumonia

Assaf Harofe Medical Center official says former Labor MK’s condition "not simple" because of his age and medical history, but he is "stable."

By
March 8, 2011 20:35
3 minute read.
Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-El

ben eliezer writing 311. (photo credit: Eli Neeman)

 
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Assaf Harofe Medical Center in Tzrifin is no longer claiming that former Labor Party minister Binyamin Ben- Eliezer is suffering from influenza, announcing on Tuesday that he has pneumonia and has been attached to a respirator and anesthetized so he will not suffer or interfere with treatment.

Assaf Harofe director-general Dr. Benny Davidson said Ben-Eliezer’s condition was “not simple” because of his age and medical history, but as of Tuesday evening, he was in stable condition.

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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu wished Ben-Eliezer well during a tour of the Jordan Valley, after hearing that his condition had worsened.

“I love Fuad [Ben-Eliezer], I really love him,” Netanyahu said. “Fuad is a special person.

I spoke to him two days ago and was updated on his condition. He is a beloved personality, and I wish him a full recovery.”

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said that all MKs, regardless of their views, were united in wishing Ben-Eliezer a full recovery.



“We know he is a big fighter,” Rivlin said.

Ben-Eliezer, who recently celebrated his 75th birthday with his wife, five children and several grandchildren at his Rishon Lezion home has for years had chronic health problems. Besides being obese, he has long been a heavy smoker, and has suffered from heart problems that required multiple bypass surgeries.

In the past year, the skin on his face and hands has been blotchy and appeared in various hues from yellow to purple.

His apparently dyed dark hair led to his ongoing image of frenetic activity and involvement, and in recent weeks and months, he saw Egypt’s then-president Hosni Mubarak and even spoke to him on the phone after the powerful Egyptian was pushed from office.

Born in Basra, Iraq, in 1936, Fuad, Ben- Eliezer’s given name, made aliya with his family in 1950 and speaks fluent Arabic as well as Hebrew and English. He has been a member of the 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th Knessets and has been in the Labor Party since 1991. Previously he was in Yahad and joined the Alignment from 1984 until 1991.

Ben-Eliezer has served in various ministerial posts including defense minister; minister of industry, trade and labor; minister of national infrastructure; deputy prime minister; minister of communications; and minister of housing and construction. For much of the time, he was loyal to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, but in recent times sharply criticized and then broke with him, leaving Barak in the new Independence faction and resigning from the government.

Previous to joining political life, Ben- Eliezer was a career soldier. He served as a commander in the Six Day War in 1967 and the Yom Kippur War in 1973 and was wounded in the War of Attrition.

In 1977, he was appointed first commanding officer in southern Lebanon, serving at the army liaison between the Lebanese Christian militias and Israel, and was then military governor of Judea and Samaria from 1978 to 1981. He was also coordinator of government activities in the territories in 1983-4.

He finished his military service with the rank of brigadier-general and was first elected to parliament in 1984 as a Yahad MK, which soon merged with the Alignment.

In recent years he has been seen as an “elder statesmen.” He won the Labor Party leadership election in 2001 only to lose the leadership post one year later to Amram Mitzna.

Ben-Eliezer has been a hawk in defense matters but more left-wing politically, calling for a compromise in final-status talks.

Herb Keinon and Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.

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