The cloudy sky reflected the mood in Tel Aviv on Saturday, where many Israelis believe Ariel Sharon’s era is over.
Even optimists conclude that the prime minister’s political reign has come to an end. With so much uncertainty, there are calls for solidarity with current caretaker leader Ehud Olmert. “I hope that all the people of Israel will go after Olmert, because we hope that Sharon will be okay, will be well, and everything will be okay, but nothing can be changed in Israel now,” said one man. Radio stations played ballads and the national anthem to mark a sombre sabbath. There is concern at the political vacuum Sharon would leave after so many years at the top. One man relaxing in a cafe said: “I am worried because I have no idea what our political situation is going to be. “I am worried because I do not see any leader who will continue what Sharon did and I am worried for him.” Israeli President Moshe Katzav has said the March elections should be held whatever happens. He argued that a new leadership and parliament are needed and that the people’s voice should be heard.