Germany expressed Wednesday its concern that Israeli right-wing Likud leader Ariel Sharon could win the prime ministerial elections, reported the Jerusalem Post newspaper.
"In Germany, we are very concerned about Sharon, and the consequences of what may happen if he takes power," Wolfgang Thierse, the president of the German Bundestag, told The Jerusalem Post in an interview.
Thierse, a popular politician from the former east Berlin and a rising star in chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democratic Party, said that although a Sharon victory would not lead Germany to "suddenly take sides with the Palestinians as a result of this change of power," in France there are "some French politicians who might feel they should do so."
Sharon will represent the Likud in the premiership elections due on February 6, after former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu withdrew his candidacy from the party's leadership and the country's premiership following the Knesset's decision not to dissolve itself.
Asked whether Germany is concerned about a possible Sharon victory, Thierse said "I think that half of the Israeli population would be even more concerned if Sharon takes power. Can you imagine how Sharon would continue the peace process? I have spoken to Sharon myself, and heard what he said, but did not hear in anything he said that he is in favor of the peace process."
Sharon, said Thierse, "has very clear positions on what he wants to defend - Jerusalem must remain Israeli, the army should only retreat in small amounts in the occupied territories, and settlements should be defended. What kind of peace process can come out of these positions?"
Sharon told the daily that he regretted Thierse's comments, and found it hard to believe that a person in his position would say such things. His assessments are "baseless," Sharon added.
Sharon said that he is the only person who "can bring peace," since he has seen the "horrors of war and participated in all of the wars."
"I think I understand the importance of peace better than other politicians who speak about peace, but did not go through what I did," Sharon said.
"For me peace is not just for a short period of time, but a peace for generations," he said. "The people of Israel deserve this."
According to the paper, Thierse hinted that the strong stand Germany took against a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood in September could change.
"Both under US and European and German influence, Palestinian President Yasser Arafat put off declaring a Palestinian state, again and again [in the past], always in the hope that this would lead to a better agreement," he said. "But this postponement can not go on indefinitely, because at some point Arafat won't survive it physically or politically." -- Albawaba.com
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