The ideology that brought Sharon to power has been destroyed, first by Oslo and then by his own hands, with this summer's disengagement from Gaza. The prime minister now appears to have a new agenda. The Land of Israel, he seems to believe, is not a value but a commodity that can be traded. The Jewish communities living beyond the Green Line, he seems to believe, have little of the pioneering quality that has long defined the Zionist ethos.
In place of his discarded ideology, Sharon is now putting his faith in what he believes to be the center of the Israeli electorate. Whereas previously the center was a marginally small segment of the population, comprising dissatisfied and floating voters, Sharon believes that his policies over the last couple of years have created a firm, durable center — one that can be his, in a most personal sense.