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Sharon’s Political Gamble

Israel’s political landscape underwent a tectonic shift on Sunday, when Ariel Sharon appealed for patriotic Israelis support of his new center-right party after his resignation from the ruling Likud Party. Sharon’s decision was extraordinary even by the often chaotic standards of Israeli politics.

He described his new national responsibility party, as a “national-liberal movement”, his decision is being watched closely by the Palestinian leadership, “what is happening in Israel today is very significant” said Saeb Erekat, the senior Palestinian negotiator, “I believe it is an eruption of a political Volcano in Israel”.

Expressing no remorse for leaving the Likud, Sharon said that staying in the party would mean “wasting time in political disputes”.

Early polls suggest his individual popularity is higher than any other leader’s but the move still represents a huge political gamble. Sharon said his party’s dual priorities will be security and the fight against poverty, the reference to poverty was significant, as it was seen as an attempt to defuse the threat posed by the new Labour leader. Amir Peretz, who came to power recently on a ticket of fighting Israel’s growing poverty, is enjoying a surge in the polls.

Sharon is gambling that he can beat Labour and thereby force Peretz into considering working in coalition with him, but if Sharon’s party is beaten by Peretz, the Prime Minister will himself come under pressure to sign up to a Labour-led government.

1 Comment

  1. Is Sharon’s leaving Likud and forming a new “National Responsibility” party the second shoe falling? Is the Middle East ready for peace? Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz, who took on Israel’s enemies in “The Case for Israel,” has a new book out called “The Case for Peace.” According to Dershowitz, the first shoe dropped with what he calls the “untimely” death of Arafat. (Untimely because it came too late!) You can read more–and download sample chapters–of “The Case for Peace” at http://tinyurl.com/84qc7

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