Israel's Netanyahu says he will be fitted with pacemaker overnight © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs a cabinet meeting at the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem, Monday, July 17, 2023. Ohad Zwigenberg/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

By Maayan Lubell

JERUSALEM (Reuters) -Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be fitted with a pacemaker overnight between Saturday and Sunday, he said in a video statement released by his office.

“A week ago I was fitted with a monitoring device. That device beeped this evening and said I must receive a pacemaker and that I must do this already tonight,” Netanyahu said in the video. “I feel great, but I need to listen to my doctors.”

Netanyahu, 73, was standing in the video and smiling. He said his doctors assured him he would be discharged from the hospital “tomorrow afternoon.” Justice Minister Yariv Levin will replace him during the procedure, Netanyahu’s office said.

Netanyahu will undergo the procedure at Sheba Medical Center in Tel HaShomer, his office said. He had been hospitalised there overnight on July 15 for what he said was dehydration from holidaying at the Sea of Galilee without properly protecting himself from a heatwave.

The hospital on July 16 confirmed its original diagnosis of dehydration and said additional tests involving a subcutaneous holter monitor had found Netanyahu to be “in complete cardiac health,” though the device would allow his medical team to continue monitoring his health.

Netanyahu faces a domestic crisis in his record sixth term as prime minister, with protests surging against his religious-nationalist coalition’s push for judicial changes.

Netanyahu said in the video he would be discharged from hospital in time for a key vote scheduled to start at parliament on Sunday and last throughout Monday.

Tens of thousands of Israelis marched to Jerusalem on Saturday hoping to drum up support against the judicial overhaul and rallied outside parliament ahead of the vote on the bill that would limit some of the Supreme Court’s powers.

Critics fear the judicial changes aim to curb court independence by Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption which he denies. Netanyahu says the reforms would balance out branches of government.

The furore has contributed to strains in relations with the United States, as have surging Israeli-Palestinian violence and progress in Iran’s nuclear programme.

Washington has urged Netanyahu to seek broad agreements over any judicial reforms. In his video, Netanyahu suggested that last minute agreements could be reached.

First elected to top office in 1996, Netanyahu has been both dynamic and polarising. He spearheaded a free-market revolution in Israel while showing distrust of internationally backed peacemaking with the Palestinians and world powers’ negotiations to cap Iran’s nuclear programme.

In early October, a few weeks before winning a national election, Netanyahu fell ill during the Jewish fast of Yom Kippur and was briefly hospitalised.


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