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Last Updated: Monday, 14 August 2006, 16:30 GMT 17:30 UK
Ariel Sharon's condition worsens
File picture of former Israeli PM Ariel Sharon
Ariel Sharon became Israel's prime minister in 2001
The condition of the former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, 78, has deteriorated further, the hospital treating him has said.

Mr Sharon has been in a coma since suffering a stroke in early January.

A new brain scan shows a deterioration in his brain function, a spokeswoman for the Sheba Medical Center told the Associated Press on Monday.

Mr Sharon's urine output has also decreased and a chest scan shows that he has a new infection, she added.

Brain haemorrhage

The spokeswoman, Anat Dolev, would not say whether Mr Sharon's life was in danger, AP reported.

The hospital said the team of doctors had begun treating the former prime minister with antibiotics and steroids.

1973: Elected Knesset member for Likud
1975-77: Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's special security adviser
1977-81: Minister of Agriculture
1981-83: Minister of Defence
1984-90: Minister of Trade and Industry
1990-92: Minister of Construction and Housing
1996-98: Minister of National Infrastructure
1998-99: Foreign Minister
2001-2006: Prime Minister
2005: Left Likud to found Kadima

Mr Sharon fell into a coma after a massive brain haemorrhage in January.

After several operations on his brain, he was moved from Jerusalem's Hadassah hospital in May to a specialist centre for long-term care.

In late July he was rushed into intensive care to undergo kidney dialysis. Hospital officials said they also noticed changes in his brain membrane at the time.

His deputy, Ehud Olmert, assumed his powers in January before being elected prime minister in March.

Mr Sharon has been a giant of Israeli politics. He was first elected to the Knesset in 1973 and held a number of cabinet positions before he became prime minister in 2001.

A former army commander, as defence minister he masterminded Israel's disastrous invasion of Lebanon in 1982.

As housing minister in the early 1990s, he presided over the biggest building drive in Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza since Israel occupied the territories in 1967.

But while prime minister, he went on to push through Israel's 2005 withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and four settlements in the northern West Bank, despite opposition from within his right-wing Likud party.

He also presided over the building of the controversial West Bank barrier.

Amid growing dissent, Mr Sharon left Likud in November last year to found a new party, Kadima (Forward), which scored a narrow win in the March parliamentary election under Mr Olmert.

A look at the career of Ariel Sharon

Ariel Sharon in health emergency
26 Jul 06 |  Middle East
Sharon moved for long-term care
28 May 06 |  Middle East
Analysis: Sharon's two legacies
27 Mar 06 |  Middle East
Israeli cabinet ends Sharon rule
11 Apr 06 |  Middle East
Israeli PM suffers serious stroke
05 Jan 06 |  Middle East
Profile: Ariel Sharon
28 May 06 |  Middle East

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