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January 5, 2006

And After Sharon?

Topics: Middle East News and Perspectives

As everyone that has a TV set or access to a newspaper knows by now, Israel's prime minister, Ariel Sharon, has suffered a massive brain hemorrhage; and at the very least, his long political career appears to be over. What does that mean for Israeli politics and for Arab-Israeli relations (clue - Palestinian terrorist leader says "Sharon illness is 'God's gift'")? Will short-sided thinking like putting occupation issues at the forefront while letting security issues take a back seat - continue?

As Ted Belman at Israpundit points out, "What made disengagement possible was that Israelis were more worried about the negative aspects of the occupation then the security threats from disengaging." He expects this to change because the reality is that the security threat is growing. And Daniel Pipes writes that "After Sharon Israeli Politics Will Revert to Its Past" :

[...]I (Pipes)was skeptical of Kadima from the very start, dismissing it just one week after it came into existence as an escapist venture that "will (1) fall about as abruptly as it has arisen and (2) leave behind a meager legacy." If Sharon's career is now over, so is Kadima's. He created it, he ran it, he decided its policies, and none else can now control its fissiparous elements. Without Sharon, Kadima's constituent elements will drift back to their old homes in Labour, Likud, and elsewhere. With a thud, Israeli politics return to normal.

Likud, expected to slip into a dismal third place in the March voting, stands the most to gain from Sharon's exit. Kadima's members came disproportionately from its ranks and now Likud conceivably could, under the forceful leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu, do well enough to remain in power. Likud's prospects look all the brighter given that Labour has just elected a radical and untried new leader, Amir Peretz.

More broadly, the sudden leftward turn of Israeli politics in the wake of Sharon's personal turn to the left will stop and perhaps even be reversed.

Continue reading "Pipes calls it as he sees it"

In spite of his successes and as Pipes points out in his piece, Sharon made monumental mistakes in recent months, especially in withdrawing all Israelis from Gaza - which simply confirmed for Palestinians that violence indeed works, and resulted in a barrage of rockets on Israeli territory and a decrease in security for Israel. However one describes Sharon's legacy, it won't include peace. But having to deal with a Palestinian culture, political climate, and religion embroiled in hate, violence and death - one that values murder higher than love, makes peace between Israel and the Palestinians nothing more than a pipe dream.

Mideast expert Walid Phares in interviews about the future of Sharon's policies, in light of the end of his career: "Ariel Sharon had a military and political history that drew a large number of Israeli nationalists but his past five years and unilateral withdrawal policies attracted a number of leftwing Israelis, disillusioned with their own party. To Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian authority, he was among the few historical leaders remaining, who were able to deliver land and power to a Palestinian Government. Sharon has built a unique equation serving all these dispersed interests. His absence won't be easy to be replaced. But the peace process is an option decided by nations not by indviduals. The next Israeli elections will tell us if the public would bring to Government a neo-Likud led by M. Netanyahu, or a coalition of all the others to replace Sharon's leadership. Washington has significant stakes in the issue with Iraq, Syria and Iran as ongoing battlefields with Terror." (On al Jazeera, BBC Radio, NBC5, radios)
Jan 5, 2006, 09:09

Without Sharon, an Epic Gap
Profile: Ariel Sharon
Sharon's 'significant stroke' sends Israeli political system into turmoil

Posted by Richard at January 5, 2006 9:48 AM

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