The enormous popularity of that withdrawal and the terrible blow inflicted upon the status of the settlers indicated ... that the folding up of settlements may not be a prescription for political suicide. This is very significant and means that people say to themselves, 'if even Sharon is supporting withdrawal, then that must be in the vital interest of Israel'.
What the Israeli public has lost today is the unprecedented degree of optimism, with the only person who could carry out unpopular historic decisions incapacitated. You don't see any figure of his status with the courage, the political acumen and the domestic strength to carry out such decisions. The whole public was waiting for Sharon's last act.
Disengagement was seen as the middle compromise. It takes an element of the right and the left. The element of the right is pessimism about the ability of the Palestinians to sign an agreement. The element of the left is willingness to divide the land. And the disengagement is the perfect synthesis of this.