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 Friday, 29 November, 2002, 13:34 GMT
Press sees concessions in Sharon victory
Posters of Sharon at Beit Shean
Sharon's win was soured by Israeli deaths worldwide
The victory of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon over Binyamin Netanyahu in the contest for the Likud Party leadership indicates Israelis have bitten the bullet and accepted the emergence of a Palestinian state, say leading Israeli dailies.

There is also a widespread feeling that Mr Sharon will emerge triumphant from the general election in January.

Likud members said yes not only to Sharon. They said yes to the Palestinian state

Yedi'ot Aharonot

The top circulation, centrist Yedi'ot Aharonot notes that the voting took place "under fire".

"There was a feeling that there is nowhere to escape: missiles fired at an Israeli airliner, barmitzvah children going on a family holiday and returning in coffins".

"Sharon won overwhelming support not for what he was but for what he is going to be. Likud members yesterday said yes not only to Sharon. They said yes to the Palestinian state, yes to the painful concessions, yes to leaving all those places - Nablus, Gaza, Hebron, and Jenin."

The Likud members voted "like a drowning man holding on to the one who pushed him in the water," a Yediot commentator added.

Nothing to lose

The rightist Hatzofe, affiliated to the National Religious Party, carries a commentary by Baruch Marzel leaving no doubt about what lies in store.

Sharon made his intentions clear. He is on his way to making painful concessions

Baruch Marzel in Hatzofe

"Voting for Sharon now is voting for the first time for a Palestinian state. Sharon has already committed himself to the Bush administration's 'road plan'."

Mr Marzel points out that as Mr Sharon is probably serving out his last term of office and "has nothing to lose".

"Sharon made his intentions clear. He declares loudly that he is on his way to making painful concessions. Why do they not believe him?"

The liberal daily Ha'aretz frets that the policies of Mr Sharon's government "have brought the personal safety of Israeli citizens to one of the lowest points for many years".

"The primaries season is over. Labour's leadership is committed to renewing negotiations and disengaging from the territories. Now it is Likud's turn to give an answer to the question of how a government under its leadership intends to make Israel a safe and prosperous country."

Violence will not cease as long as the Israeli government encourages settlers to grab more Palestinian land

Ha'aretz

Lonely

Ha'aretz commentator Yoel Markus says it is a lonely job at the top.

"The victor will remain alone and have to decide what to do with this victory. He will have to stand before the voters on January 28 and commit himself to one national issue: ending the conflict with the Palestinians."

"He must show that he has the greatness of spirit and courage to bring Israel home."

Ha'aretz also warns "the violence will not cease as long as the Israeli government encourages settlers to grab more Palestinian land, turning a blind eye and using a soft hand on those who harass and persecute the local population".

Writing in the conservative Jerusalem Post, Saul Singer says Mr Sharon "should change the way he does business in order for our situation not to further deteriorate", notably on the economy and relations with the United States.

His victory celebrations turned sour with the victims' blood

Ma'ariv

"Israel is on the front lines of the war against militant Islamism, and should be treated by the US as an ally as close as Great Britain. Sharon's job is to convince Bush that pretending to be even-handed between the Arabs and Israel is bad for peace and bad for the US, both for the same reasons: it legitimizes hatred of Israel and is taken by the Arab world as a sign of weakness."

Mr Singer believes he is set for a convincing victory over the new Labour Party leader in the January election.

Hollow victory

Israel's second largest circulation daily Ma'ariv comments: "Yesterday was supposed to be the greatest political day in the life of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, but it turned tasteless. His victory celebrations turned sour with the victims' blood, from Mombasa to Bet Shean."

"Had the rockets hit the plane and downed it, almost 300 people would have been killed and our reality this morning would seem so much different. This is the most tragic piece of evidence of our grim situation. On a day that nine Israelis, including children, are murdered worldwide, we still must thank God for his miracles."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.


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29 Nov 02 | Middle East
28 Nov 02 | Middle East
28 Nov 02 | Middle East
28 Nov 02 | Media reports
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