Ariel Sharon is opting for minority government rule rather than trying to launch talks with Labor to form a unity government.
It makes a lot of observers wonder. After all, the disengagement plan that Sharon is trying so hard to push through – over the objections of the religious right that formed part of his coalition – is very similar to the plan that former Labor leader Amram Mitzna campaigned on last election… and that Sharon dismissed as unrealistic. Israeli politics can be funny that way. But still, one might think that Sharon would welcome the opportunity to broaden his power base and earn more support for his plans.
Or maybe not. After all, most analysts agree that in Israel, the left proposes the tough concessions but only the right can get them passed. Post-Oslo, the Israeli public does not trust Labor to look out for their security interests. So if Sharon wants to win support for his plan from the hard-line elements, he can’t be seen getting to cozy with the opposition, I suppose. No doubt this is a calculated gamble.
The good news is that the religious parties will lose some influence in government with the NRP ministers’ resignations. As the religious parties become more fractured, their power base will diminish and they might lose some of their grip over aspects of secular Israeli life. One can hope, anyway.