JERUSALEM (AP) – Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his Likud Party won a resounding victory in Israel’s parliamentary elections yesterday, as voters endorsed his hard-line approach to the Palestinian uprising and dealt the dovish Labor Party its worst defeat in history.

The prospect of progress on the Palestinian front now appears to depend on whether Sharon can form a coalition that will include the opposition Labor, which campaigned on a pledge to restart peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

In his victory speech before jubilant supporters, Sharon called for a “unity government” and warned that “there is no cause for celebration. The battle against the terrorist organizations hasn’t ended and it claims more victims every day … It’s a time for soul-searching, for uniting.”

Israel TV quoted Sharon as saying he would not establish a right-wing government under any circumstances, although in his speech he did not offer any policy incentive to Labor.

Labor leader Amram Mitzna has ruled out joining a Likud-led government, and he reiterated that stance yesterday after congratulating Sharon on his victory. “We will remind Sharon every day that there is an alternative, that there is another way,” Mitzna said.

Even without Labor, Sharon is expected to face difficulties in forming a stable government from the myriad political and religious factions, especially amid the turmoil of the Palestinian uprising.

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