Sharon vs. Bibi
This should make my egyptian readers happy: Prime Minister Ariel Sharon yesterday lambasted former finance minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his arch rival for the Likud leadership. "Netanyahu is prone to panic. He panics and loses his cool - and such a person cannot lead a country," Sharon said on the Channel 10 program, "London and Kirschenbaum," broadcast last night [...] "Whoever flees responsibility a week before presenting the state budget and abandons his work team is an irresponsible man and I would not rely on him to run a country," he said. Bibi, on the other hand, declared that he intends to challange Sharon for Likud's leadership: Benjamin Netanyahu announced Tuesday that he would challenge Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for leadership of the ruling Likud Party and replace him as premier, setting off a bitter fight that could shake up Israeli politics and paralyze Mideast peacemaking. Appealing to his hawkish supporters, Netanyahu lashed out at Sharon for his unilateral pullout from the Gaza Strip accusing him of creating a de facto Palestinian state — and said he would take a far tougher stance. And he intends to take on Sharon for it: The Sharon-Netanyahu battle burst into the open after a party tribunal ruled Monday that the 3,000-member Likud Central Committee, stacked with Netanyahu supporters, could set a primary date in a Sept. 25 vote. Netanyahu would benefit from a quick leadership contest. Sharon, whose standing in the hard-line party plunged because of his Gaza pullout plan, needs more time to reposition himself and stage a comeback. But this could be political suicide for the Likud, because: Some confidantes have advised the prime minister to leave the party he helped found three decades ago and create a new centrist party with Likud moderates, capitalizing on the broad popularity Sharon enjoys among the general public. A Netanyahu-led Likud is expected to win far fewer than the 40 seats that Likud, the largest party, holds in the 120-member parliament. May the Likud wars begin!