Next Step for Israel's Sharon

Israel's voters gave a boost to the ruling party of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in an election on Tuesday. He'll need that support with war looming over Iraq.

Mr. Sharon is a close partner with President Bush in the global war on terrorism, and Israeli voters decided his right-wing Likud party is best suited to handle Israel's difficult role during a possible war.

But Likud came up short in winning a majority of the 120-seats in the Knesset, a sign of deep divisions within Israel. Economic despair, hopelessness over peace with the Palestinians, and disputes over religion were reflected in a low turnout.

Sharon will likely need to decide whether to put together a coalition from the left or the right. If he can win over the Labor and Shinui parties from the left, he can fulfill a campaign promise to create a Palestinian state, and thus also help US interests.

But a coalition with right-wing parties would lessen chances for peace. His victory wouldn't mean much then.

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