Joel Rosenberg in National Review Online massively overplays the impact of Sharansky's resignation from the Israeli cabinet.
Sharansky's influence in Israeli politics is already long spent. His party barely survived the last elections and then happily merged with Likud. The man deserves a great deal of respect and admiration for his personal and political courage, but he no longer has a constituency in Israel. Having already resigned from the Knesset, his resignation from the cabinet leaves him with no public post. He's not even an opposition legislator.
The timing of this resignation is also curious. Why didn't he resign the moment the plan was approved overwhelmingly by the cabinet? It was clear by then that he could no longer stop it. What's new this week that suddenly warrants his resignation? If he is so firmly opposed, why have we hardly heard his voice lately?
The comparison to Sharansky's 2000 resignation over Camp David is misguided. Sharansky then had public opinion behind him, with Barak having already alienated his supporters and with widespread opposition to the depth of his proposed concessions. Today, like it or not, public support for disengagement remains high. Perhaps not insurmountably high, but high enough. And support in the Knesset is insurmountably high.
Barring drastic events, there is no conceivable scenario at the moment in which Sharon's government could fall. There is no indication that Netanyahu, Shalom or Livnat are prepared to risk political suicide to lead the anti-disengagement rebellion. Without them, Sharon is safe.
Cynics observe that Sharansky is presumably fed up with being ignored at home, preferring to lecture to rapturous audiences abroad and sell his book. The resignation will permit him to collect honoraria.
The Jerusalem Post reports that Sharansky "will lobby against the disengagement plan next month when he travels to Washington for a series of speaking engagements, public appearances and meetings with senior American officials." With all due respect, it's the Israelis who need to be persuaded, not the Americans.
I'd like to see Sharansky join the active opposition to disengagement. But I confess I expect to be disappointed.