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Rooting for the Radical

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Thomas Friedman shows how a radical’s electoral triumph (in a parliamentary system) can be good news for moderates.

Next Monday, Israel and the whole Middle East will witness a hugely important election. Ostensibly it is a vote over when the Likud Party should hold its primary. But it actually is a vote over who will lead Likud into the next election â€â€? Prime Minister Ariel Sharon or his challenger, Bibi Netanyahu. If I could vote, there is no question whom I would cast my ballot for: Bibi. Yes, pray for Bibi to crush Sharon and drive him right out of the party. That’s where Sharon belongs.

Why, you ask? Because the Likud under Bibi, and without Ariel Sharon, will be free to be itself � to represent the lunatic right in Israel, become a fringe party and drive over a cliff. Sharon will then also be free to be himself, to form a 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.