Israel's Peres in medically induced coma after major stroke

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli elder statesman and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shimon Peres suffered a stroke on Tuesday and was put in a medically induced coma, hospital officials said.

“I remain optimistic. I believe, I pray and hope for the best, however this in not an easy time,” Peres’ son, Chemi, told reporters gathered outside Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv.

“It seems we will have to make decisions going forward, though not at the moment.”

The hospital’s director told reporters that Peres had “suffered from a major stroke with a component of bleeding.”

In a career spanning nearly seven decades, Peres, 93, served in a dozen cabinets and twice as a Labour Party prime minister, even though he never won a general election outright in five tries from 1977 to 1996.

He later served as president, a largely ceremonial role in Israel, from 2007-2014, before leaving politics.

“Shimon, we love you and the entire nation is wishing for your recovery,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement.

Peres shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Israel’s late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for a 1993 interim peace deal that they and their successors failed to turn into a durable treaty.

When a far-right Jewish Israeli opposed to the peace deal shot dead Rabin in November 1995, Peres became prime minister. Polls showed him way ahead of rightist Likud leader Netanyahu in a campaign for the 1996 election.

But Palestinian suicide bombings that killed dozens of Israelis and an aggressive campaign by Likud battered Peres’s popularity and he lost the election to Netanyahu by less than 30,000 votes.

Editing by Alison Williams and Robin Pomeroy