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Photo: Gabi Menashe
Attila Somfalvi
Photo: Gabi Menashe
Who's the big winner?
Rocket attacks will determine Prime Minister Sharon's popularity
The Qassams will decide: As of Tuesday evening, once the Gaza and northern West Bank evacuation was completed, it appeared everyone awaits to see one thing: What will the Qassam rockets do, and more generally, what will the Palestinians do.

 

The big question is whether we are facing a calm, quiet period of growth, or rather, a new period of violence, bloodshed, and ongoing fighting.

 

After the evacuation, and after images of the empty settlements will slowly disappear from the media, it will be the Palestinian Qassam rocket, along with the mortar shells and terror attacks, which will again take the stage.

 

Indeed, it is the Qassam that will determine where the disengagement is taking us: A better future, or escalation, a renewed war, mayhem.

 

Everyone awaits the Qassam in silence: Citizens, politicians, journalists, generals, soldiers, and police officers. Everyone wonders when
it will land. Amid a tense silence, they all wait to see where the explosion will occur, and the one after it, and the ones after that one – and the lives that will be taken.

 

The Qassam is able to, as of today, change lives, literarily, change our world and our way of life. As of Tuesday evening, the Qassam will decide: If it arrives, we'll face a big mess. If it doesn't arrive, things will be good. For everyone.

 

Sharon the king?

 

Politicians, like Ariel Sharon for example, put their faith in the Qassam, or more accurately, its absence. If the Palestinians maintain the quiet, refrain from firing at Israeli communities, and focus on clearing the rubble and building a new life in Gaza, the prime minister will have hit the jackpot.

 

He'll be able to look all his rivals in the eye with a condescending, confident glare, and flash a cynical smile that says it all: You were proven wrong, that grin will say. You think you know everything, but as it turns out, you were wrong.

 

Yet if that doesn't happen, Sharon will be the one to pay the price. After all, he was the one responsible for this plan, the one who placed it on the agenda.

 

If quiet is maintained, Sharon will be the big winner, in every way. On the national stage, Sharon will be perceived, by Likud members too, as the only true leader in Israeli politics, the one man who can lead the country in the coming period.

 

Polls undertaken by Sharon' associates in the last elections showed that the average citizen doesn’t care about his prime minister's corruption, and it's doubtful whether the situation has changed.

 

Therefore, not Benjamin Netanyahu, not Yosef Lapid, not Shimon Peres, and certainly not Ehud Barak will be able to even get close to matching the sympathy Sharon will enjoy within the Israeli public, or at least the public situated in the center of the political map, which silently backed the Gaza withdrawal.

 

Indeed, the public that wishes to see the disengagement's dividends.

 

And the dividend Israelis are most interested in is quiet, a calm that will bring with it additional profits, both economic and social.

 

Israel may be able to, perhaps, to get back on a new economic track, with the role of king played by, who else, Ariel Sharon.

 

Attila Somfalvi is Ynet's political correspondent
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