What Direction for Israel After Sharon?

The Guardian reports that doctors rule out a return to office for Arial Sharon, should he survive.

Ariel Sharon's political career was at an end last night as he remained on life support after hours of surgery to stop "massive and widespread" bleeding in his brain. Political leaders publicly offered statements of support for Mr Sharon, but there was a growing acceptance that, even if he were to survive, the 77-year-old former general would not return to office. Doctors said the Israeli prime minister would struggle to recover from the stroke.

The Guardian's Jonathan Spyer says Sharon will leave "The Biggest Shoes to Fill."

As world leaders react to the health crisis of Ariel Sharon, the New York Times analyzes the hurdles ahead for Kadima, his new and centrist party. The main question seems to be, is Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert up to the task of replacing him?

Arianna, who has met Olmert in a small setting and heard him speak, thinks he is.

....Fearless, pragmatic, willing to risk his and his party's political future to do the right thing for his country.

Olmert blogged at HuffPo about Kadima and how it would move Israel forward.

Eric Alterman at Altercation sounds less sure:

Ehud Olmert has always impressed me with his political savvy but he lacks sufficient charisma to carry an entire party. Peres belongs (thankfully) to history. Netanyahu would be another Bush: corrupt, incompetent and ideologically extremist. The best thing about Sharon’s party was its potential to marginalize that element of the right, particularly those driven by dreams of the messiah’s return and the expulsion of a million or so Palestinians from the future Palestine. Meanwhile, polls do not give any indication of Labor’s trust level rising high enough to reach beyond its shrinking base.

I found this article helpful tonight in trying to learn more about Sharon, the conflict and the ramifications of his loss as a leader. Here's a bio of Sharon. And here is what is described as "The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in a Nutshell."

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    Re: What Direction for Israel After Sharon? (none / 0) (#1)
    by Andreas on Fri Jan 06, 2006 at 12:25:44 AM EST
    With the Al Fateh leadership of the Palestinian Authority making only the most perfunctory noises, the only dissenting response to the obscene praise for Sharon as a “man of peace” came from the Palestinian Islamic militant groups. A Hamas spokesman described him as “the one who carried out massacres and terrorism for decades against our people,” while Islamic Jihad leader Anwar Abu Taha called Sharon a bloody tyrant who should “go to hell.” Since coming to power in 2001, Sharon, who deliberately provoked the second Intifada in September 2000 with his visit to the Al Aqsa mosque, has presided over a bloodbath that has claimed the lives of close to 3,500 Palestinians and around 450 Israeli civilians. He has also encouraged a massive expansion of Zionist settlements in the occupied territories, with almost half a million settlers now in the West Bank and Jerusalem. His much-lauded pullout of a few thousand settlers from Gaza has provided a cover for the United States to support a land grab that will permanently annex both Jerusalem and at least half of the West Bank to Israel. At the same time, it has provided the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) with the ability to actually step up its military offensive against the Palestinians without factoring in concern for Jewish settlers trapped in Gaza. On December 2, for example, an Israel Air Force strike in the northern Gaza Strip killed three Islamic Jihad commanders.
    Israel: Sharon’s stroke plunges Israel into political turmoil By Chris Marsden, 6 January 2006

    Re: What Direction for Israel After Sharon? (none / 0) (#2)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Fri Jan 06, 2006 at 05:02:26 AM EST
    Well it's official (at least according to Pat Robertson). God has struck Sharon down for daring to make a deal on Gaza with the Palestinians. I guess this explains Pat's silence on those Oklahoma fires. He's been communing with God again on the fate of the middle east. Isn't it comforting to know we have such a valiant man working for peace in palestine?

    Re: What Direction for Israel After Sharon? (none / 0) (#3)
    by John Mann on Fri Jan 06, 2006 at 05:51:09 AM EST
    Interesting bio of Sharon: Here's another.

    Re: What Direction for Israel After Sharon? (none / 0) (#4)
    by Slado on Fri Jan 06, 2006 at 06:53:55 AM EST
    Once again Pat has his theology mixed up. If there was a hand in Sharon's misfortune it would more likely be the devils work since Sharon had transformed himself into a moderate/centrist voice in this ongoing struggle. It is really too bad that Sharons illness comes at a time of possible change for the better in Isreal. It seems that no matter what anyone does people and events find a way to screw it up. Good article by Charles K here Sharon

    Re: What Direction for Israel After Sharon? (none / 0) (#5)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Fri Jan 06, 2006 at 07:17:30 AM EST
    Toon of the Day: Hellfire & Brimstoneland

    Re: What Direction for Israel After Sharon? (none / 0) (#6)
    by swingvote on Fri Jan 06, 2006 at 07:41:01 AM EST
    As for what direction for Israel after Sharon: Hopefully forward, into a peaceful relationship with its arab neighbors, but that depends more on the willingness of the arabs, and specifically the "palestinians", to negotiate honestly and to seek an actual peace rather than another chance to build bombs before the next intifada. As demonized as he has been for his past, Sharon was the best friend the palestinians had because of his past. Making with with Peres is easy, he's been a pacifist and an enabler for years. It was Sharon's standing as a leader willing to fight that made his overtures toward peace effective. Sadly, the PLO and its many terrorist friends show no real interest in peace with Israel, as that would then require them to actually govern their own people, something they have no interest in doing.

    Re: What Direction for Israel After Sharon? (none / 0) (#7)
    by soccerdad on Fri Jan 06, 2006 at 07:57:34 AM EST
    Sharon had transformed himself into a moderate/centrist voice in this ongoing struggle.
    Only when compared to the lunatic fringe members of the Likud Party. All he has really done was to give up some land in Gaza which was hard to govern in return for taking land else where. The Palestinians are left with no home land, what land they have will be broken up into little cantons [reservations] and will require them to be utterly dependent on Israeli to travel. All this has been in direct violation of the Roadmap. We have heard, and rightfully so, when actions of the palestinians differ from the Roadmap but everyone is silent when Israel does so. The US and Britian have long since abandoned their role of "honest broker" and have completely backed Sharon. Certainly Sharon was a little better than the extremists from the Likud party that are likely to come to power in the March elections. However, it will have no effect on US policy given this administration's connections to the Likud party. Although Sharon's policies were better than the extremists his policies were unlikely to lead to peace, just a more unifed and powerful Israel which would have allowed them to become more independent of the US and thus "deal" with regimes they didn't like in the ME. Since their goals parallel those of the US, all is fine.

    Re: What Direction for Israel After Sharon? (none / 0) (#8)
    by pigwiggle on Fri Jan 06, 2006 at 08:16:05 AM EST
    Not that I am overly familiar with Israeli politics, but I’m not aware of anyone with Sharon’s political clout who is willing to make concessions towards a viable Palestinian state. And regarding the roadmap; I don’t see any externally derived or multi-national brokered solution working; it seems that’s how this whole mess came about. There is likely a single viable solution that will eventually be reached as the Israeli nation, the neighboring nations, and the displaced population aggressively wear at each other. I think Sharon was accelerating this process. Too bad.

    Re: What Direction for Israel After Sharon? (none / 0) (#9)
    by swingvote on Fri Jan 06, 2006 at 08:46:54 AM EST
    Pigwiggle, You are correct. The Roadmap was only going to be any good if both sides adhered to it. The Israelis tried to; the PA never did, and because of that the Israelis were never under any actual constraint to do so after day one of the process. And while I agree that it's unlikely that there is another leader with Sharon's standing ready to step in on the Israeli side, the fact is it wouldn't matter if there were a hundred of them. The PA is not serious about the process and even if they were, they don't speak for or control all of the other groups (Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Aqsa, Fatah, etc...) who are actively waging war against Israel, so nothing they do will matter in the long run. Israel got screwed (partly by itself) when it agreed to negotiate with Arafat at Oslo because Arafat never had the standing to deliver an honest deal. Neither does Abbas.