Today Prime Minister Ariel Sharon left the Likud party in Israel that he himself to a large extent had created back in 1973. Instead, he decided to set up a new ”National Responsibility” party with a profoundly different core agenda.
While Likud was the party that was formed around the idea of Greater Israel, National Responsibility will be the party that de facto abandons this idea and instead continues the policies for a realistic peace started with the unilateral disengagement from Gaza.
It is a move of historic significance for Israel – and possible for the entire Middle East.
The country is heading for new elections by March at the latest. March 8 looks like a possibility.
It will be a bitter struggle not the least between the old and the new party of Ariel Sharon. Israeli politics is being redefined in a way that will have consequences for years to come.
There has also been the upheaval in the Labour party and the emergence of its new and very different leader The new leader Amir Peretz is from a very different mould than the old ones, and seems destined to strike a cord with the electorate. It looks as if the old leader Shimon Peres is about to abandon Labour and join the new party that Sharon is setting up.
It will be turmoil on all fronts. But the end result is likely to be a Knesset majority for a continuation of the present policies of realism and peace.
You never really know, but at the moment it seems to be good news coming out of the Middle East.