Ariel Sharon has suffered a massive stroke:
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a massive, life-threatening stroke Wednesday and underwent lengthy surgery to drain blood from his brain after falling ill at his ranch. Powers were transferred to his deputy, Ehud Olmert.
Doctors placed Sharon on a respirator and were trying to save his life only hours before the hard-charging, overweight, 77-year-old Israeli leader had been scheduled to undergo a procedure to seal a hole in his heart that contributed to a mild stroke on Dec. 18.
Pan-Arab satellite television broadcasters beamed out largely straightforward, nonstop live coverage from outside the hospital where Sharon Â a particularly despised figure among many Arabs Â struggled for his life.
But a Palestinian commentator on the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya network offered Sharon unexpected praise as "the first Israeli leader who stopped claiming Israel had a right to all of the Palestinians' land," a reference to Israeli's recent withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. "A live Sharon is better for the Palestinians now, despite all the crimes he has committed against us," said Ghazi al-Saadi
No comment on the "crimes" nonsense here; I think deep in their hearts many Arabs knew that Sharon was going to give the Palestinians the best chance they were going to get for some sort of a homeland, and for eventual peace.
Israelis, after the disaster of Oslo, are unlikely to trust a leftist government again to lead them into a peace process; Sharon is the only figure with the "street cred" to actually give up some land without making it seem like a surrender, and while he he remained at the helm, the Israeli citizens knew that attacks upon them would no gunpunisheded.
If Sharon should pass, at this critical time, by default the so-called "peace process" will grind to a halt for months (at least) as Israel searches, leaderless, to find their way. Will this gap be filled with patience from the Palestinians, or will opportunists see a way to gain power through spectacular terrorist attacks? And should that happen, what type of mandate will the new Israeli leader gain office with?
If the Palestinian people have any true desire to possess statehood, they must now show forbearance. Alternate courses of action could set their prospects for peace (as well as that of the greater Middle East) reeling backwards, to an end filled with yet years more of tears, and despair.
Mere Rhetoric is tracking Israeli media reports on Sharon's condition here: http://www.mererhetoric.com/