Wednesday, November 30, 2005

On a Roll

Sharon's gambit in leaving the Likud party and forming his own appears to be paying big. Many on the left are already signaling that they wish to join his centrist enterprise, with Sharon ready to steal just about everyone's thunder in a political manuever of almost Bismarckian magnitude.

Peres, who lost the Labor leadership vote earlier this month, was traveling in Spain on Tuesday and did not comment specifically about his plans. Sharon left the Likud Party last week to form the new movement, known as Kadima.

Peres's ally, Dalia Itzik, a member of Labor's 21-person parliamentary bloc, announced that she would join Sharon. She is the second Labor member of parliament to do so after Haim Ramon, who announced his decision last week.

"It looks like a package deal," Eitan Cabel, the Labor Party's secretary general, told Israel's Army Radio. "We spoke about their remaining and not defecting to another party. But apparently things were already sealed, and the talks with us were nothing but a smoke screen."

Sharon, first a prime architect of the settler movement and then later a prime demolition artist, calls for the following very specific things as part of his party:

The newly drafted party platform explicitly calls for the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, a goal of the U.S.-backed plan known as the "road map," which Sharon has said he would follow in seeking to revive a dormant peace process. The platform also calls for Israel to keep its major West Bank settlement blocs and East Jerusalem in any final peace agreement.

It's comforting that Sharon is truly hell-bent on this outcome and peace just as an individual and was fully prepared to torpedo the Likud party and go it alone to accomplish it. Its guts you almost never see from a politician, but does jive with the fact that Sharon was a former General. The comparison between Bismarck and Sharon is an interesting one, as Sharon is a sort of anti-Bismarck who is using power politics and careful diplomacy to bring about the fragmentation, not unification, of Israel into two states.

Update: It's official, the defections are underway!