Sunday, January 3, 2010

Former PM spokesman: Netanyahu is following in Sharon's footsteps; Netanyahu aide: NO it aint so!

(Jpost).Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who was one of the most vocal critics of former prime minister Ariel Sharon, has ironically proven to be his political heir, Sharon's longtime spokesman Ra'anan Gissin said Sunday, on the eve of the fourth anniversary of the stroke that ended Sharon's political career.

Gissin, who worked for Sharon for a decade, noted that Netanyahu, like Sharon, moved to the center of the political map after becoming prime minister, formed a national-unity government, and is expected to approve a prisoner exchange with the Palestinians.

He said Netanyahu followed the "Sharon school of thought" when he unilaterally froze West Bank construction and negotiated territorial compromise with the Americans before doing so with the Palestinians.

"Those who claimed to be Sharon's successor failed because the tsunami waves that came after his disappearance were too much for them," Gissin said. "The tragedy is that his fiercest critics such as Netanyahu turned out to be his real successors. Netanyahu hasn't formed a Kadima, but he has realigned his own party in the Center to allow himself to make the decisions he has to make regarding the fate of the Palestinians."

Sharon has been in a coma since his second stroke on January 4, 2006, and is still connected to life support systems at the Chaim Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer. Gissin said that were he to wake now, he would be disappointed by the outcome of at least two of his ventures: The Gaza Strip withdrawal and Kadima.

"If he looked at Kadima, he would say this baby was taken out of the incubator way too early," Gissin said. "It's not what he wanted. The ripple effect of his premature departure is still felt four years later."

Sources close to Netanyahu responded to the criticism by saying that the prime minister hoped Sharon would make a full recovery but that he did not intend to model his premiership after his.

"Netanyahu is not following the path of Sharon and he still criticizes the disengagement all the time," a source close to Netanyahu said. "The prime minister wishes Sharon a full recovery so they can argue again in the future."