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Ariel Sharon
Photo: Reuters
Arik's dream team
Peretz, Lapid and Shinui are the main losers of Sharon's decision

So, he's done it: Ariel Sharon has decided to take the party he created with his own hands, thrash it about on the floor, break it, destroy it, and along the way to remake the Israeli political map.

 

From deep inside himself, Sharon decided to act. He decided to break the framework, break all the rules – to create a new path. What will be will be, and all we can hope is that it will be good. At least that’s what the advisors say.

 

Now, all that's left is to see what sort of list Dov Weisglass and Chaim Ramon can put together: current estimates say it will be a constellation of stars, at least on the outside. Not necessarily glimmering stars, but rather stars compared to those left in the Likud.

 

Sharon's advisors will market the new party like any new product: They will seize on the differences between the new party and the old, sleepwalking parent group, and they will lure voters for a taste of the new, improved model.

 

The quality of Sharon's list doesn't really matter. What really matters is what they don't say: That they don't send the same message as the Likud Central Committee.

 

Sleepless nights

 

Now that there is a new party, we can assume that Labor Party Chairman Amir Peretz will have some sleepless nights. As will Likud challenger Benjamin Netanyahu and Shinui Party leader Yosef Lapid.

 

These three must worry, for it is impossible to know just how the Israeli electorate will react, given the new hybrid animal that has suddenly appeared on stage.

 

If the predictions, the statistics and the polls are correct, then each of their parties will contribute both candidates and votes to Sharon's new endeavor, the magnet party.

 

But Peretz seems likely to absorb the biggest blow. Just yesterday he seemed to be riding a wave of support, both within the Labor Party and amongst the general public. In order to stand up to this new threat, Peretz must go on the attack – and hard.

 

He cannot give Sharon too much time to breathe. The honeymoon he has enjoyed for the last few days could quickly become a sweet memory.

 

Therefore, exactly as he has done since being elected, Peretz must remain on the offensive; continue to show that Sharon's corrupt hands are responsible for hurting the weaker classes of society. Otherwise, Sharon and co. will eat him and his party alive.

 

It is one thing for Likud challengers Benjamin Netanyahu and Uzi Landau to attack Sharon from within the party. It is quite another to attack him from the outside, surrounded by people who look and sound different.

 

Shinui in freefall

 

Shinui leader Yosef Lapid had better also worry, but his surprise is sure to be a lot less.

 

As opposed to the Labor Party, which currently is predicted to win as many seats as the new party, Shinui is falling apart in the polls. It is not outside the realm of possibility that this process could continue into the next few months, and therefore the party will be forced to gird its loins and set off on a relatively aggressive campaign in order to preserve – even just a little – its self respect.

 

The Israeli political establishment will withstand the shock Sharon has presented. It will survive it because the move has been a long time in coming.

 

The Gaza disengagement was only the trigger that allowed things to snowball and reach the place they have reached. And on this matter, we can only doff our caps to Chaim Ramon: His political senses are excellent. He has seen this coming for a long time. More than that, he has done everything in his power to ensure that it would happen, never hiding his intentions or actions.

 

Now, almost after the fact, we can say that Ramon was right. His analysis was right, and his senses were right.

 

Let the explosion begin.

 

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