STRANGE TO say but letâ€™s hope that Ariel Sharon is still leader of the right-wing Likud party in Israel today.
Yesterday he was facing the former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in party elections to choose their leader for the general election in January.
Sharon is hawkish, uncompromising and provocative. He has promised security to the Israeli people but in the last two years both security, and consequently the economy, have declined drastically.
Yet unattractive as Sharon is to the world outside Israel and the USA, he is the lesser of two evils. There were big question marks over Netanyahuâ€™s personal probity while he was in office but what is far worse is that he is campaigning on a platform of rejecting the very notion of Palestinian statehood.
Even Sharon, willingly or unwillingly, accepts that there should eventually be a Palestinian state. Netanyahu wants to scrap the idea and exile Yassir Arafat and presumably most of the Palestinian people too.
Sharon is expected to win the Likud elections convincingly, partly because party members do not trust Netanyahu but also because they largely recognise that eventually there has to be a Palestinian state.
This should have profound implications for Israeli politics. If even right-wing voters believe that there should eventually be a Palestinian state, it makes sense to start doing things now that will make that humanly possible.
In particular the Israeli state should start winding down its support for existing settlements in the Occupied Territories. If that land belongs to the Palestinians, it does not make sense to keep insisting on allocating it to Israeli settlers. Eventually it will have to be handed back.
Lesser Of Two Evils