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ARIEL AIMS FOR HEALTHY VICTORY (NEW YORK POST COMMENTARY) By URI DAN 12/23/05) Source: http://www.nypost.com/commentary/60141.htm
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ARIEL SHARON, recovering from a mild stroke, is preparing for the battle of his life — not with his waistline but with his opponents in upcoming Israeli elections.
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The prime minister signaled he was back to work Wednesday when he conferred with senior Israeli defense and security brass at his official residence in Jerusalem.
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As usual, a plate of cookies was placed near him. But he pushed it away, saying, "It´s not for me anymore. I´ll surprise you by keeping a strict diet."
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By being rushed to a hospital last Sunday night, Sharon was saved from possible fatal damage, according to doctors.
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While he doesn´t smoke and enjoys only a rare Bloody Mary or wine during dinner, he likes to eat.
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His late wife, Lily, struggled to get him onto a fish-oriented diet. But Sharon would stun waiters by ordering a steak "my size."
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Add in his regular 20-hour, 6 a.m.-to-2 a.m. schedule, and it´s surprising he wasn´t hospitalized earlier.
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His health is crucial because in breaking from his former Likud bloc, Sharon essentially created a one-man political party, named Kadima.
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Two candidates, Treasury Minister Ehud Olmert and Justice Minister (and former Mossad operative) Tzipi Livni, are in open battle for the role.
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But yesterday, Sharon told them to keep quiet — another sign that he´s back to work.
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On the right in the upcoming election, he faces Likud´s Benjamin Netanyahu — who demands reciprocity in negotiations with the Palestinians and charges that Sharon´s unilateral pullout from the Gaza Strip may accelerate terrorist attacks.
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On the left there is Amir Peretz of the Labor Party, who calls for a return to Israel´s border before the 1967 Mideast war.
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Being in the center — and extraordinarily popular — helps explain why the first post-stroke poll showed Sharon´s party winning 39 seats in the next parliament, up from 35 in the previous poll.
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But the wild card of this race is terror. After all, it was the suicide bombings in the heart of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in 1996 that enabled Netanyahu to defeat then-Prime Minister Shimon Peres, who recently quit Labor to join his old foe Sharon.
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After the personal warning that his stroke gave him, Sharon is readying to deal with the Gaza attackers, reportedly with very serious measures. uri.dan@nypost.com (Copyright 2005 NYP Holdings, Inc. 12/23/05)
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