JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday announced that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer that would require surgery to remove, but declared his intention to stay in office.
Following the results of a regular check-up, I was diagnosed with initial signs of prostate cancer, he told a news conference in Jerusalem.
According to my doctors, this is a microscopic growth without metastasis that is removable through short surgical treatment. According to the medical assessment there will be no need for chemotherapy or radiation, he said.
Olmert, 62, who has always prided himself on his good health and is a renowned sports fanatic, said the surgery was scheduled for the coming months but declined to give a specific date.
I will be able to fully carry out my duties before the treatment and several hours after it, he said. My doctors told me there is a full chance for a complete recovery.
The prime minister s office announced the news conference at the last minute following rumors in the local media about his health.
His predecessor Ariel Sharon suffered a debilitating stroke in January 2004 that ended his public career and sparked widespread criticism over the lack of transparency over the health of the prime minister.
Olmert first took office as premier after Sharon s collapse and then went on to win a general election in March 2006.
Weakened by a string of corruption scandals and heavy criticism over last year s war in Lebanon that was widely regarded as a failure in Israel, he is one of the country s most consummate politicians.
Olmert was born in 1945 in the central village of Shoni, a base for militants of the ultra-nationalist Irgun group in its campaign of bombings and killings directed against both the Arab majority and the then British rulers.
In 1973, he became the youngest Member of Parliament, running for the right-wing Likud. He later opposed both the 1978 Camp David accords with Egypt and the 1993 Oslo agreement with the Palestinians.
But eschewing his right-wing political friends in the early 1970s he married left-leaning artist Aliza, who brought up their four children with equally liberal views.
After entering the cabinet in 1988, Olmert was elected mayor of Jerusalem in 1993, a post he held for a decade but in which he never really shone.
In 2003, he returned to government as deputy premier under Sharon who handpicked him as his successor.
Steeped from birth in the ideology of a Greater Israel across all of historic Palestine, Olmert underwent a late-career conversion, coming to believe that Israel had to withdraw from Palestinian territory if it were to remain a democratic Jewish state. Agence France-Presse