Turning the Crystal Ball to Israel

Twenty Friedman units ago, out columnist announced his support for Benjamin Netanyahu over Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in the upcoming Likud Party leadership election. Why?

“Because the Likud under Bibi, and without Ariel Sharon, will be free to be itself – to represent the lunatic right in Israel, to become a fringe party and drive over a cliff. Mr. Sharon will then also be free to be himself, to form new party with other center-right and center-left figures, a party that can give Israel a solid majority for making a final settlement with the Palestinians – provided they ever get their act together and turn Gaza, their ministate, into something more like Dubai and less like Mogadishu.”

In the event, Sharon narrowly won the Likud primary, but we got to test out Friedman’s prediction anyway. Within two months, Sharon had left Likud to form Kadima, and in 2006 Kadima leader Ehud Olmert was prime minister. Likud did not fade, away, of course, there was not final settlement, and there is no Dubai on the Mediterranean. Instead Netanyahu gained his second term as prime minister in 2009.

Friedman, Thomas L. 2005. “Rooting for Bibi is Rooting for Israel.” The New York Times. Sept. 23: A19.

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