Analysis / PM's Holiday Miracle Still Needs Peres

A great personal miracle took place last night for someone who is willing to go to the end, in a cool and determined manner.

Ariel Sharon is the sort of person who makes miracles happen. In the saga of disengagement, having been left without a coalition and nearly without a party, he took the step of the gambler who had lost all his money in a series of bets and was left with a single chip. This he tossed to the least supporting forum, the Likud Central Committee, which has consistently brought him losses and humiliation.

This time, the test was the most crucial of all and he won the pot.

The cries of happiness heard last night at the exhibition grounds came from Sharon supporters for a change.

It may be said that the foundation for Sharon's victory last night began two weeks ago, when Yosef Lapid, then deputy prime minister and justice minister, posed an ultimatum to the prime minister against the transfer of funds to United Torah Judaism.

Lapid's action made it clear to Sharon that he faced a dead end: Stay with Shinui and be dragged into early elections, or bring the structure down and be left with 40 Likud MKs, some of them wishing his downfall, but still manage to pass the budget in a preliminary reading and take the pot by bringing Labor into the coalition.

Without Labor, Sharon knew that no disengagement plan could be implemented and he would have not a government. It was clear to Sharon that, without permission from his party, he would not be able to bring Labor into the government. It was also clear that only if the situation was very bad, near catastrophic, would he be able to rally the necessary support.

In order for something good to happen, things should be bad, someone who was not a member of Likud once said.

Now that the main actor, the star of the show, has passed the greatest hurdle with success, all eyes are turned to the supporting actor. Starting tomorrow, it will be Shimon Peres' show. Only if Peres lives up to his end of the bargain will Sharon's victory be complete.

Just as Peres was dependent on Sharon until last night, now Sharon depends on Peres. If it was up to the two, a coalition government would be formed by lunchtime today.