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Palestinians, Arab League express concern over Sharon victory

There is little hope of advancing the peace process with the reelection of Ariel Sharon as Israel’s leader, according to leading forces in the Arab world.

“I do not expect any changes in Israeli policy if Sharon wins the elections,” Arab League head ’Amru Mousa said just before the results were announced. “Sharon’s last government did not do much to prevent the continuation of the occupation.”

“Sharon’s victory brings the situation from bad to worse,” was the headline on Hizbullah’s Al-Manar TV, quoting un-named Palestinian leaders.

Meanwhile Palestinian cabinet member Sa’eb Ariqat told reporters, “the situation goes towards a freeze in the peace process; the deterioration of the situation on the ground; and the continuation of the Israeli military escalation against our people.”

As expected, Hamas condemned the result: “After Sharon’s victory and his staying on as prime minister, escalation will be the order of the day from the Israeli side as well as the Palestinian side.”

A leading Islamic Jihad official, Mouhammad Al-Hindi, was quoted on the Al-Jazeera TV website as saying, “the inclination of the Zionist map towards the right means that the escalation will continue. That is why it is necessary to gather around the Intifada and the resistance.”