Thursday, January 05, 2006

Sharon

This correctly explains why Sharon's stroke is really bad news.
Just when an epic victory for his ambitious plan to remake the boundaries between Israel and the Palestinians was within his grasp, Ariel Sharon has been betrayed—not by any rival or ally, but by his aging body. The Israeli prime minister suffered what officials called "a significant stroke" on Wednesday, and underwent eight hours of surgery for a cerebral hemorrage overnight. . .

[I]t is striking how, in recent months, Sharon has managed to break the mold of Israeli politics and initiate a realignment based on politicians' abandoning traditional party loyalties and lining up behind the old general's vision. His unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, the security wall he has built to secure Israel and the West Bank possessions it claims, and the expectation that a similar unilateral withdrawal would eventually occur in the West Bank as well are not part of any political party's standing program, nor of any treaty or "road map." They reflect Sharon's own vision of a peace concluded without the participation of the Palestinians, based on his long-held premise that "there is no Palestinian partner," and that Israel's best interests are served by unilaterally—and occasionally in consultation with the U.S.—resolving the problem of the occupation on its own terms. When his own Likud Party balked, he simply formed a new party, Kadima, supremely confident in his personal standing with the electorate.

Sharon has long been viewed by friend, foe and mediator as uniquely positioned to achieve a disengagement with the Palestinians, on the basis of his unrivaled credentials as a warrior, a champion of the settler movement and a politician of the most hawkish stripe. . .