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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 6 November, 2002, 13:57 GMT
Israeli press worried about early election
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at the Knesset
Mr Sharon described elections as the "least bad option"
Most Israeli papers are worried about possible consequences of the early election called by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Some fear the poll will lead to the further rise of the right, others are concerned about costs and the election's effects on the conflict with the Palestinians, led by Yasser Arafat.

The liberal independent Ha'aretz daily welcomes the collapse of the government, which it describes "one of the worst in Israel's history" but it worries that Mr Sharon's Likud Party is the one set to gain most out of the elections.


The rule of one big party led to corruption - the splitting of parties into splinter parties led to anarchy

Yedi'ot Aharonot

"Nearly everything points to the Likud and the right being strengthened in the run-up to the election," a commentary in the paper says.

"Labor's chances in the new campaign are limited."

It puts the failure down to its leader, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, whom it describes as "a man whose political behaviour has become more irrelevant to Israeli politics than Arafat has ever been".

The centrist mass-circulation daily Yedi'ot Aharonot says Israel's "bankrupt" political system has led to the current political anarchy.

"The rule of one big party led to corruption. The splitting of parties into splinter parties led to anarchy."

Personal rivalries

A commentary in the same paper says personal rivalry is the real issue at stake.


We feel deep sorrow that because of tribal, in-party and personal rivalries and struggle over power we so quickly and at such a difficult hour for the state are facing elections

Hatzofe

"It seems that for the first time in the history of the state, the Knesset is being dispersed not because of a confrontation between parties, but because of personal rivalry over control of every party."

It continues: "We have a defence minister for three months and a foreign minister for two weeks. Perhaps this looks good in pictures - the dream Likud trio - but in reality the three horses are not built to pull together."

The right-leaning daily Hatzofe agrees.

"We feel deep sorrow that because of tribal, in-party and personal rivalries and struggle over power we so quickly and at such a difficult hour for the state are facing elections," it says.

Praise and criticism

In contrast, the independent daily Ma'ariv is full of praise for Mr Sharon.


Elections now are against the wish of the people and against reason, and the Labor Party must pay a heavy price at the ballot box for causing the dismantling of the government

Hatzofe

"The decision by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to bring the election forward... is worthy of appreciation," it said.

"He will be remembered as one who chose not to be drawn to a period of uncertainty and recurring surrender to political extortion."

Hatzofe is equally critical of the Labor Party and the right-wing parties.

"Elections now are against the wish of the people and against reason, and the Labor Party must pay a heavy price at the ballot box for causing the dismantling of the government," it says.

"The parties to the right of the Likud have always been champions in dismantling right-wing governments and encouraging splits in the camp of the right."

Hatzofe is also concerned about the effect the elections will have on relations with the Palestinians.

"There is no doubt that, on such days, the enemy thinks that we are getting weaker because we have no stable government and this will increase its motivation to hit us more... This will force the army to take tougher measures."

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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05 Nov 02 | Middle East
30 Oct 02 | Middle East
05 Nov 02 | Middle East
05 Nov 02 | Middle East
05 Nov 02 | Middle East
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