Israelis are coming to terms with a big political shake-up triggered yesterday when the prime minister quit the ruling Likud party to form a centrist bloc. While the public makes up its mind, polls now show Ariel Sharon’s new National Responsibility party would have enough support to ensure him a third term.
“It is a whole new game in fact in Israeli politics with a lot of consequences internally and maybe also as far as foreign relations are concerned and relations with the Palestinians,” said one Jerusalem resident.
“I think that Sharon, and he brought along 14 other members of the Likud, is realising that real politic requires us to create borders that are defensible, to give up the idea of the greater Israel,” said another man. Sharon says he wants to work on setting permanent borders while insisting on the dismantling of terrorist groups. He adds that he has wasted too much time battling far-right rivals in Likud. Now some of those very rivals are vying to lead his former party. They want to be the ones taking Likud into an early general election that is expected to take place some time in March.