Olmert’s can­cer news boosts his pop­u­lar­ity

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY JEFF BARAK JERUSALEM

IS­RAELI PRIME Min­is­ter Ehud Olmert’s taboo-break­ing an­nounce­ment on Mon­day that he was suf­fer­ing from prostate can­cer has nearly dou­bled his pop­u­lar­ity among the Is­raeli pub­lic.

Ac­cord­ing to a Da­haf In­sti­tute poll, Mr Olmert’s ap­proval rat­ings jumped from eight per cent in July to 14 per cent on Mon­day.

An­other poll by Te­le­seker showed 11 per cent of the re­spon­dents thought Mr Olmert was the most suit­able can­di­date for prime min­is­ter, up from 4.8 per cent in June.

Mi­nah Tzemah, head of the Da­haf In­sti­tute, noted that Mr Olmert’s pop­u­lar­ity had also in­creased be­cause of the IDF raid on Syria last month.

Sixty-one per cent of the Da­haf re­spon­dents said that they thought Mr Olmert had shown courage in an­nounc­ing his ill­ness to the na­tion, while 84 per cent said they be­lieved his doc­tors’ re­mark that the Prime Min­is­ter’s chances of a full re­cov­ery were high.

In the past, Is­raeli lead­ers have hid­den their health prob­lems from the pub­lic. Mr Olmert’s an­nounce­ment was seen as set­ting a new prece­dent for the coun­try’s lead­ers, par­tic­u­larly fol­low­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence of Mr Olmert’s pre­de­ces­sor, Ariel Sharon, who is still in a coma fol­low­ing a mas­sive stroke at the be­gin­ning of last year.

Mr Olmert told a hastily ar­ranged press con­fer­ence that “ini­tial signs of a can­cer­ous growth have been iden­ti­fied. It is a mi­cro­scopic growth, which has not metas­ta­sised, and which can be re­moved in a short sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dure.”

He said his doc­tors had as­sured him it was not life-threat­en­ing, and his of­fice later an­nounced that the op­er­a­tion to re­move the growth will take place af­ter the An­napo­lis sum­mit, sched­uled for later this month.

Among the many call­ers to wish him well was Pales­tinian Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas, who him­self un­der­went prostate surgery in 2001.

The 62-year-old Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter is known for his healthy lifestyle, run­ning be­tween 8 to 10km at least twice a week, as well as reg­u­larly visit­ing the gym.

The IDF’s head of bat­tle fit­ness, Colonel Avi Moyal, is his per­sonal trainer.

PHOTO: AP

Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem an­nounces he is to un­dergo prostate surgery

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