It is ironic that one has become concerned for Sharon’s health, if it weren’t for Benjamin Netanyahu, bidding his time and waiting to succeed him. If the choice was ours, we would choose the former. But, Israeli politics always seem to disappoint. Sharon, whose heinous deeds preceded his odious reputation, has joined the pragmatist camp in the last three years. He has demonstrated uncharacteristic flexibility in dealing with Palestinian issues, the latest of which was the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.
If Sharon were to be confined to history, we would need to ready ourselves to deal with a strong-willed person, who revels in his extremist positions. He has tried to overthrow Sharon over the last few years claiming the Prime Minister had forsaken Israel’s interests. If Netanyahu were to ascend to power once again in Tel Aviv, this would denote a success to extremists on both sides and take us back to square one.
Netanyahu’s extremism is driven by ideology more than a comprehensive political viewpoint which reflects Israeli security concerns. I do not mean he lacks practical experience, since he was once a military officer, an ambassador and Prime Minister for three years. He is on the verge of returning to power for the second time. Metaphorically speaking, he killed Yitzhak Rabin with his fanaticism, demagogy, extremism, and support for the Israeli right. Today, he is on the verge of burying his worst enemy Sharon who suffered a stroke because of their rivalry. Netanyahu fought Sharon in the last few months and forced him to leave the Likud Party to establish an independent party, so as to evade evil Netanyahu. Historically, during his premiership, between 1996 and 1999, Netanyahu also killed the seeds of peace when he resorted to escalation against the Palestinians, at a time when the Palestinian political establishment was more flexible, realistic and ready for peace.
Captain Netanyahu, to use his military rank, is crying foul, as if he were seeking war with the Palestinians and Arabs in general. This is seriously worrying, since Sharon’s transformation from a brutal beast into a pragmatic politician has already cost both sides dearly. Repeating this experience would be untenable, especially given the complex world we now live in.
Several Arab officials are worried about Sharon’s disappearance from the Israeli political scene, at this point in time, after he came to an understanding with the Palestinians, agreed a plan for a partial withdrawal from the West Bank and prepared for a final solution to the conflict.
If Netanyahu were allowed to return to the premiership and put his antagonistic policies to practice, he would destroy all the limited successes of the last few years.