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Israel's opposition politicians head to 'political wilderness'

The decline of the big political parties and the rise of personality driven parties are harming Israeli politics by devaluing being in the opposition, where accomplishing change for the public good requires determination.
This pictures shows the charred and desolated landscape after a raging fire ravaged the Carmel forest close to Kibbutz Beit Oren, near the northern Israeli city of Haifa, on December 3, 2010 as thousands of Israeli firemen and rescuers fight to control a massive forest fire that has already killed 41, as global help poured in to battle the biggest inferno in the country's history. AFP PHOTO/MARCO LONGARI (Photo credit should read MARCO LONGARI/AFP/Getty Images)
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Much has been written about the many years that the late Prime Minister Ariel Sharon spent in the political wilderness after his dismissal as defense minister in 1983 and later during the Oslo process, when he served as a Knesset opposition member. Appearing to be a political has-been, Sharon would sit in the Knesset cafeteria, often alone, yearning for a colleague or a journalist to join him. Sometimes the sight of him there aroused pity.

Even the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin spent seven years as a member of the opposition, between 1977 and 1984. In 1977, he had been forced to step down as prime minister and leader of the Alignment Party (today's Zionist Camp) due to his wife, Leah, having an illegal foreign currency account. At the time, Israeli citizens were not allowed to hold accounts overseas after having serving abroad. The military chief of staff, during the Six-Day War, had to make do with being a regular member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. Having penned an autobiography, Rabin, like Sharon, persevered in politics even when it seemed that his political career had run its course. Rabin and Sharon must have sat through countless tedious Knesset deliberations, given speeches no one listened to and fought tooth and nail in Sisyphean battles to win leadership roles.

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