The majority of Palestinians are sceptical that a new Israeli leader would bring peace to the region. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who attended Friday prayers at a mosque in Ramallah, has telephoned Sharon’s office to express hope for his recovery. Technology Minister Sabri Sadeem said:
“The Palestinians are certainly looking for hope. “They are looking for a serious leadership that takes over in Israel – that is serious about allowing the Palestinians to pave the way for their self-determination, for the recognition of their rights and for the establishment of the Palestinian state.” In Gaza’s fish market, residents were largely indifferent to Sharon’s ill-health. But one man, Doctor Salah Alsous, said it is possible that the situation in the Middle East could improve, given the right people in charge. “Sharon will be the last general of war that represents continuous war in the area,” he said. “It is possible to achieve peace if we have wise people in Israel and in the world.” Others, however, are less optimistic. One Palestinian man said: “Sharon played his role and Ehud Olmert will replace him and he is even more right-wing than Sharon and extremist than Sharon.” “The whole government is extremist and right-wing.” Militant group Hamas is sure Sharon’s departure will change nothing. Spokesman Saeed Seyam said: “The Palestinian people will be very happy and feel some form of revenge for the criminal Sharon who committed several crimes. “But at the end, anyway, we are dealing with a bloody occupation, led by a criminal leader and generals.” Sharon’s apparent aims fell far short of the state envisaged by the Palestinians but the question is whether any other Israeli leader could deliver anything at all.