January 5, 2006


Israel's political vacuum: Prime Minister Sharon's sudden absence leaves no major leaders in the nation's political center. (Rafael D. Frankel, 1/06/06, The Christian Science Monitor)

With the retirement of longtime Labor leader Shimon Peres in November, Sharon was the last of Israel's original generation of leaders active in politics and the only man the majority of Israelis trusted to run the country, which many here view as in a perpetual fight for its existence.

Since Israel's disengagement from Gaza in August, Sharon had ridden a wave of popularity here which allowed him to throw off the allies-turned-foes in his former Likud party. If given another term as prime minister, Sharon declared in November when he created Kadima, he would seek to "determine the final borders of the state" of Israel.

With Israeli settlers out of Gaza and the continued construction of the separation barrier running through parts of the West Bank, those final contours were beginning to take shape.

That's the task that awaits whoever succeeds him, regardless of their own preferences.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 5, 2006 7:55 PM
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