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Victorious Sharon faces daunting task

Jerusalem, Jan. 29 (Reuters): Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, riding high on a sweeping victory by his Right-wing Likud party, faced the daunting challenge today of forging a lasting coalition after an election that redrew Israel’s political map.

Sharon quickly appealed to other factions to join a broad “unity” government to confront the twin crises of a Palestinian uprising and possible war in the Gulf, but the Centre-Left Labour Party declined despite its worst election defeat.

He could be forced into an alliance with far-Right and ultranationalist parties which want to spur him to an even harder line against the Palestinians, a move which could put him at odds with Israel’s chief ally, the United States.

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