The 2001 Israeli Elections: What Next?

Election Outcome
About Prime Minister Sharon
Sharon on the Peace Process
The Need to Build a Governing Coalition
What Next for the Labor Party?

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About Prime Minister Sharon

Ariel Sharon has been a high-profile figure in Israel for decades. Described alternatively as a pragmatist, an ideologue, and a realist, Sharon is a complex personality. He is often labeled a "hawk," and is known as a great promoter and builder of settlements. At the same time, Sharon was a participant in negotiations with the Palestinians during the Netanyahu Administration and is bitterly remembered by some on the right for his oversight of the dismantling of the Israeli town of Yamit in the Sinai following the peace agreement with Egypt. In his campaign, Sharon stressed that Arab leaders trust his word and that he has cultivated good relations with many Arab leaders, including the late King Hussein of Jordan.

Sharon shares with Ehud Barak a distinguished and courageous military record, having fought in each of Israelís wars. While his military successes are widely known in Israel, internationally he is remembered most for his role as Minister of Defense during 1981-1983, directing Israelís war in Lebanon. In 1983, the Kahan Commission, appointed by Prime Minister Menachem Begin to investigate Israelís connection to the Phalangist massacre of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, concluded that while Israel was not responsible for the atrocity, Sharon should have considered the possibility of revenge killing by the Phalangists in the camps and should have done more to prevent or limit their access.

Sharon has been active in Israeli politics since his election to the Knesset in 1973. He has held a series of advisory and cabinet positions under successive governments, beginning with the first Rabin Administration in 1975, through Begin, the national unity governments of the late 1980ís, Shamir, and Netanyahu. His cabinet positions have included the Agriculture, Defense, Industry and Trade, Housing and Construction, Infrastructure and Foreign Affairs portfolios. He has served as Chairman of the Likud Party since the summer of 1999.

Next: Sharon on the Peace Process

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