So, Sharon has exploded Israeli politics and gone to set up his own, supposedly more 'centrist' party. It is a bold move and he is a very brave man to attempt it; the last (admittedly then former) prime minister who tried setting up his own rebel party (with none other than Shimon Peres), David Ben Gurion, notoriously failed, and the party, Rafi, dissolved after one term.
The question now is this. Several senior Likud ministers have committed to come with him. Now, at the moment of truth, how many members of other parties are going to come too, particularly following the recent changes in the Labour party? Ie. who is going to be as brave as Sharon himself, considering that the new party is a complete unknown and their chances of getting elected in a good spot are also unknown? The answer to this question, in the next few days, will tell us straight away whether the PM's party is going to sink or swim. If they come with him, it is a vote of confidence and the momentum will probably carry it far. If Sharon is left struggling for members, or if he gets the Shimon Pereses of the other parties -- the rejects -- the loser air will be hard to shake and the prophecy will fulfill itself. Furthermore, if all he does is attract other Likud members and a few strays from other parties, all he would have done is split the Likud vote, in effect strengthening the other parties. The next few days, in other words, are crucial.