Photo: Reuters
Sharon speaks at U.N.
Photo: Reuters
Sever Plocker

Sharon’s farewell speech

Prime minister chooses U.N. as venue for divorce from Likud

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon chose the most unexpected venue – the United Nations General Assembly - to bid his own party, the Likud, a final farewell.


Sharon’s moderate, touching, and excellent speech, which he delivered in Hebrew, was directed in its entirely to the ears of Israeli centrist and leftist voters. It did not include even one paragraph of flattery to his tradition constituency, namely the Likud Central Committee and the ruling party’s members.


Sharon’s speech, with its plethora of messages regarding further painful concessions to the Palestinians and their national rights, served as an unequivocal testament to Sharon’s departure from the core of Likud ideology and his significant turn to the left, and marked a resounding end to his leadership of the Israeli hawkish right-wing camp.


The estimation that Sharon firmly demanded to deliver his speech before the U.N. General Assembly in Hebrew in order to deliver a campaign speech has fully materialized – yet the substance and messages of that speech were the opposite of what was expected of him.


Sharon lays groundwork for elections victory


Commentators expected to hear messages that would be well-received by Likud rightists (“Who wants to uproot terror?”) but instead got a speech that was music to the ears of Shimon Peres (“Who wants a Palestinian state and concessions for peace?”)


In fact, the commentators got a Shimon Peres speech: Beautiful, well constructed, and dovish. A speech whose diplomatic rewards are slim: A few friendly slaps on the shoulder from U.S. President George W. Bush, some foolish words from Russian leader Vladimir Putin, and a rather insulting remark by Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf.


As of Thursday evening, then, members of the Likud Central Committee can no longer have any doubts: Sharon does not care about them any more. He has embarked on a new road.


Sharon told the entire world he has decided to dedicate the latter part of his political career to bringing peace for Israel and the boosting of normal neighborly ties between Israel and the Palestinians, as opposed to quarrels with Likud rival Benjamin Netanyahu.


Sharon’s words were broadcast on television and laid the groundwork, not for a victory in the Likud Central Committee and certainly not for a victory in the Likud primaries, but rather, an overwhelming victory in the next Knesset elections, if and when he takes the helm of a new party, whose platform he outlined on Thursday.


Indeed, it was at the United Nations that Ariel Sharon bid farewell to his political roots and the notion of the Greater Israel.


Sever Plocker is Yedioth Ahronoth’s business editor and a regular commentator on political and economic affairs

פרסום ראשון: 09.17.05, 13:09
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