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A warrior’s last battle

"A warrior’s last battle" Continued...

Issue: "God and mammon," Jan. 14, 2006

Mr. Sharon married Margalith's younger sister, Lily, with whom he had two sons, Omri and Gil'ad. Lily Sharon died in 2000; the day before his father's major stroke last week, Omri resigned his seat in the Israeli parliament after pleading guilty to perjury and violating campaign finance laws.

Last week Mideast radicals danced on Mr. Sharon's grave while he still lived. "Allah is great and is able to exact revenge on this butcher," said Ahmed Jibril, leader of the Syrian-backed faction Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command: "We thank Allah for this gift he presented to us on this new year." But President Bush called Mr. Sharon "a man of courage and peace," and a Palestinian commentator on the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya network praised him as "the first Israeli leader who stopped claiming Israel had a right to all of the Palestinians' land."

Mr. Sharon's deputy premier, former Jerusalem mayor Ehud Olmert, took over formal leadership, but analysts question whether he can beat hard-line Likud leader Netanyahu or dovish Labor Party leader Amir Peretz in the March elections. (Ironically, had Mr. Netanyahu not resigned, he would probably be in immediate line to regain the prime minister's job that was his from 1996 to 1999.)

No one knew what the change in Israel's leadership would mean for its future. One immediate dispute is whether Palestinian residents of Jerusalem will be able to vote in the Palestinian parliamentary election scheduled for Jan. 25. Israel has threatened to say no, since it does not want to legitimize any Palestinian claim to Jerusalem. That step may give Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas an excuse to cancel a vote that his corrupt Fatah party might lose. But Israel might not mind a cancellation, since election victors would likely include Hamas extremists.

So the chess game continues. Jalal Salman of An-Najah University, a Palestinian school, said, "Sharon went a long way down the path to peace, and he is the only Israeli leader capable of making peace with the Palestinians." But Israel's volatile politics will probably cast up new surprises: Few would have predicted in 2001 that doves in 2006 would be describing Mr. Sharon as an eagle rather than a buzzard.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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