Thursday, August 19, 2004

Likud rebuffs Sharon Again

Ariel Sharon is very far from being one of my favorite politicians, but it is increasingly cleat that he has made a major break with the hard-liners in his Likud Party. Some have treated Sharon's disengagement plan as nothing more than a charade. I don't think this is correct.

This is what happened according to Haaretz

The crushing rebuff at the Wednesday night convention came in votes over a proposal by Likud "rebels" to block the Labor Party from joining a unity government.

Convention members were asked to vote on two resolutions - one from Sharon, authorizing him to carry out coalition negotiations with any Zionist party, and a competing one from Minister Uzi Landau rejecting a coalition with Labor. Sharon's own proposal was defeated by just 5 votes - but Landau's passed 843 to 612, a majority of 231. The votes were hand counted following a computer breakdown.

Sharon did gather the support of a majority of Likud's members of the Knesset (24 out of 25).

I can't claim to be an expert on Israeli politics, but it seems clear to me that a split in Likud is inevitable. Formed in 1973, representing conservative powers in Israeli politics. Its name is Hebrew for "unity".The uniting factor for Likud was the idea that the territories occupied by Israel in the 1967 war, Gaza, the West Bank and Golan Heights should be included into the state of Israel. Just as there was no truth in Izvestia and no news in Ivestia, there is now no unity in Likud.

This is shown clearly in the final paragraphs of the Haaretz article.
But Minister without Portfolio Landau, one of the leading opponents of both disengagement and Labor's entry into the coalition, rejected both the allegation of boycott and the allegation that he and his fellows were a rebellious faction. It is Sharon, he charged, who has repeatedly "scorned" the Likud and its historic path - by terming Israel's presence in the territories an "occupation," by calling for a Palestinian state, and by ignoring the decision of Likud members, who rejected his disengagement plan in the May referendum.

Sharon's desire to bring in Labor is merely one more example of the prime minister's utter contempt for his own party, Landau said. As for Labor, "we aren't rejecting a party - we're rejecting a path," he said.

Labor's presence in the government, he said, would mean a return to the 1967 borders, the division of Jerusalem, an end to the army's determined war on terror, and the return of both Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat and Labor Party Chairman Shimon Peres to the center of the political stage.

"We can't split the national camp," he said. "To vote for bringing in the Labor Party is to commit suicide." Ministers Tzipi Livni and Gideon Ezra also spoke on Sharon's behalf. Landau's backers included Deputy Minister Michael Ratzon and MKs Michael Eitan and David Levy.

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