Presidential hopeful MK Binyamin Ben-Eliezer (Labor) will undergo a kidney transplant next week, Channel 2 News reported on Friday.
According to the report, a suitable donor for Ben-Eliezer, who has been undergoing dialysis treatments three times a week, has been found. The procedure is scheduled for right after Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel’s Independence Day) which will be celebrated on Tuesday.
The transplant is not supposed to directly affect Ben-Eliezer’s bid for the presidency, noted Channel 2 News. The 78-year-old MK is one of the few declared candidates who has managed to secure the required signatures of 10 MKs for his candidacy. He has also been endorsed by his party.
Ben-Eliezer has had a history of poor health. Three years ago, he was hospitalized for three weeks during a bout with pneumonia. At one point during that hospitalization, he was put into an induced coma but made a full recovery.
The news of his impending transplant comes as the presidential race is heating up. Several weeks ago, another candidate, Minister Silvan Shalom, made headlines after allegations of sexual harassment were made against him.
The charges began with a woman who claimed to have been harassed 15 years ago by the minister when she worked in his office; Shalom denied knowing the woman. The file was later closed given that the statute of limitations had expired on the case.
In addition to Ben-Eliezer and Shalom, MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud) has expressed interest in running as well, and is the most popular candidate among the Israeli public, as recent polls suggested. Other candidates include former Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik, Nobel Laureate Professor Daniel Shechtman, former Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner, and MK Meir Sheetrit (Hatnua).
Ben-Eliezer himself was involved in some controversy earlier this week, when an investigative television report revealed that he had frequented “exclusive and discreet” casinos in London and did so up until 2002, when he was serving as a top government minister.
Ben-Eliezer’s media advisor said that the Labor MK has a large family in London and only visited these casinos in order to have dinner. He did not engage in gambling, stressed the advisor.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)