Irh i Wuek
Although Israeli Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon has served in office
less than two years, he has lost his
governing majority and must now
dissolve the Knesset (parliament)
and call for new elections. It is not
guaranteed that he will continue on
as prime minister.
BEHIND THE ISSUE
Sharon was elected prime minister
in a separate ballot in 200L'under
a system that now has been
changed. The next prime minister
will be the head of the political
party best able to form a majority
government after the upcoming
February parliamentary election.
— Allan Gale, Jewish Community
•Council ofPletropolitan Detroit
MN 00 Tic
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so, by the current, centrist party
leader, Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, or by
more left-wing politicians such as
Haifa Mayor Amram Mitzna or
Knesset member Haim Ramon?
Leadership primaries are due for Labor
on Nov. 19. Likud primaries probably
will be held soon afterward.
Recent polls show Likud likely to
rise from its current 19 Knesset seats
to almost 30, while Labor would fall
from 24 to around 20.
However, those polls were taken
when Labor was still in the Likud-led
government, with no undisputed
leader and no clear political identity of
its own. As a fighting opposition under
a leader with a clear mandate, Labor's
support could rise, even though there
is not much time until elections.
Sharon has indicated that he will
campaign as the experienced, responsi-
ble, unifier of the nation, dismissing
his opponents as divisive and inexperi-
enced. For all their substantive policy
differences, both Netanyahu and Labor
argue that, unlike Sharon, they can
actually solve the nation's problems.
Whoever wins the Labor primary is
expected to target the settlers, arguing
that Likud is beholden to the settlers
and thus can't make peace with the
Palestinians and solve the nation's acute
security and socioeconomic problems.
Ironically, the early elections could
turn out to have been very nicely timed:
A post-Iraq America and a post-election
Israel could get down to serious business
on the basis of the American plan for
peace with the Palestinians. -1