BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Persian Pashto Turkish French
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
    You are in: Middle East  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
 Monday, 6 January, 2003, 21:21 GMT
Israelis back 'tough' Sharon
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon visits the wounded in a Tel Aviv hospital
Sharon has vowed to punish the perpetrators

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has visited a hospital in Tel Aviv to check on those wounded after Sunday's suicide bombings that killed 22 people.

You have the sense really that even the politicians themselves feel that the public has made its mind up. Most Israelis are firmly siding with the Sharon line

David Horowitz, Jerusalem Report editor
Mr Sharon stopped and spoke to one injured man, but ended up giving a campaign speech about terror.

In recent weeks Mr Sharon's Likud party has been hit by allegations of corruption and fraud during internal party primaries.

So - with elections just weeks away - he and his ministers prefer to keep talking about the issues they know sell best with the voters - security and hatred of the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat.

"Children are thrust into the cauldron," Foreign Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

"There is no reform possible with this regime. We need a new leadership."

'Programme of war'

In retaliatory action, Israeli helicopter gunships struck a metal workshop in Gaza, which Israel said was used to make mortar bombs.

An injured woman is being treated by paramedics
The attacks sent shock-waves through Israel

Over the past month, more than 50 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli military action, and on government instructions the army has stepped up its operations.

But Palestinians believe there is a simple reason for this - Ariel Sharon has an election to win.

"The programme of Sharon is the programme of war," Palestinian Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo said.

"There is not one single item in that programme which shows that he intends to start a genuine negotiation and peace process with our people."

'Decided' elections

One of the contenders for the new leader of Israel's opposition Labour party, Am ram Mitzvah, has been calling for a restart of peace talks with the Palestinians.

Mr Mitzvah, the Mayor of Haifa and a former general, says if the talks fail, Israel should pull back from most of the West Bank.

Polls show that many Israelis agree with his ideas - but will not back him during the election.

For most, it seems, this is the wrong time for concessions.

That is why so many appear to be sticking by Mr Sharon, depriving this election of any sense of suspense.

"I think maybe the leaders feel that the people have made up their minds," the editor of the Jerusalem Report, David Horowitz, said.

"They're such starkly different options that these two parties are presenting," he said.

"You have the sense really that even the politicians themselves feel that the public has made its mind up. Most Israelis are firmly siding with the Sharon line."

War fears

In Jerusalem, there are hardly any signs that the elections are just weeks away.

I have seen a few buses with Sharon signs painted on them. But that is about it.

In fact people seem more caught up by the threat of war against Iraq - and a possible strike against Israel - than they do by this election.

For many right now, it seems that it is more important to make sure you know where to pick up your gas mask than where to cast your ballot.


Key stories

Profiles

FACTFILE

TALKING POINT

AUDIO VIDEO
See also:

06 Jan 03 | Middle East
06 Jan 03 | Media reports
06 Jan 03 | Middle East
05 Jan 03 | Middle East
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Middle East stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Middle East stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes