The process Israel is going through is not only political, but economic.The government of Israel last week took a decision of the utmost importance, one that will determine our fate and future. My heart goes out to those who are unable to see beyond their private little considerations and raise themselves to the level of this fateful day of decision: a day on which we embark on a new journey, following years of hostility.

In the first place, Ariel Sharon’s leadership should be commended. He set his sights on a challenge and did not let up even once he had reached the top. Sharon continued to identify and set the next target, he persisted in finding solutions in difficult times, in dark days and he showed an unwavering ability to stand fast under pressure.

A good leader in my view is one who leads the establishment towards continued achievements. The good leader is one who can navigate the establishment he leads in accordance with economic and social variables, whilst carrying out the wishes and policies of those who chose him, to the optimum. In this case, those who chose him are the overwhelming silent majority of the people of Israel, and such is the man, Ariel Sharon.

Sharon is aware of the fact that he holds a short-term deposit for a limited period of time and that he will transfer that deposit to the leader who follows him in a far better state that it was when he received it.

The disengagement is a gateway of hope, as one who quotes the words of the High Holidays ‘Open a gate for us when another is closed’. We are embarking on a new journey and I support the optimists and those who believe in the results that disengagement will bring.

First and foremost renewed stability, which will bring back the foreign investors. A few signs of this were seen in the recent privatizations. The second result will be personal safety, a basic precondition for operating the national economy. However the disengagement process will not be complete without voting in the budget. Should this fail and result in a new round of elections, we will yet again be plunged into a vortex of uncertainty.

There is much hope attached to the return to Israel of the Ambassadors of Egypt and Jordan. Despite all of our cynicism, we should recognize that the concept of ‘A Different Middle East’ is within our grasp, and I am careful not to use the phrase ‘A New Middle East’.

The new government includes forces that are fitting and can lead the process towards a full settlement with the Palestinians, of which the present disengagement constitutes a first step along the Road Map presented by President Bush. All this can be achieved with the support of the US, the Quartet, the new Palestinian government as well as the national unity government under the leadership of Sharon.

I believe it is right to say that only he who dares will succeed provided he does so. Sharon has dared with the blessings of the majority of the population of Israel amongst them the business community who anxiously await a return to the opportunity to be involved in commercial/economic activities as they would be in any stable and optimistic nation.

As one who was born here and who took part in the initial contacts with the Palestinian Authority in the days of Yizhak Rabin, I can only feel relieved that we are moving towards realizing an objective, my hopes and prayers like those of all Israel go out to the people of Gush Katif and the other settlements. Their pain is our pain.

Our arms are open and or thoughts are geared towards giving them any assistance that will be necessary to reabsorb them within the recognized borders of the State of Israel so that we all may flourish.

(Originally appeared in Globes)