Ariel Sharon Resigns

Israel to forget Arafat for the next four months
At 9:45 a.m. local time, the American television channel CNN started broadcasting a press-conference of Israeli President Moshe Katsav; he said that Ariel Sharon had appealed to him for the dissolution of the Knesset. It was also mentioned that Ariel Sharon expressed his intention to resign. Moshe Katsav said he gives his consent to the decision.

For the past week, Ariel Sharon was trying to form a new coalition after Socialist Party members Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres left the government; however, he achieved no success. Analysts supposed at once that the resignation of the key figures from the government might result in the downfall of the governmental coalition, which, in its turn, would result in pre-term parliamentary elections in Israel. That’s what we are seeing now. The Israeli Hawk made strong efforts to save the sinking ship: he held talks with right-wing parties (Our Home is Israel and Mafdal), and it seemed that he managed to win their support. However, later, representatives of Our Home is Israel refused to support Sharon, and the prime minister didn’t receive the support of the parliamentary majority.

Benjamin Netanyahu, ex-prime minister and one of the Likud party leaders, tried to save the situation, but he rejected Sharon’s offer to take the post of Israeli foreign minister. Instead, Netanyahu recommended that Ariel Sharon to hold pre-term elections. The next elections to the Knesset are scheduled for February 4, 2003, and it’s not certain that Ariel Sharon will once again be the head of the new government ( the chances of Sharon or Netanyahu for the leading post are 50/50).

Dmitry Litvinovich PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Maria Gousseva

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