Skip to comments.Sharon To Leave Political Party
Posted on 11/20/2005 5:49:45 PM PST by DallasMike
AP) JERUSALEM Israel's dovish Labor Party voted Sunday to pull out of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government, and Sharon reportedly decided to quit his Likud Party to set up a new movement — beginning a campaign for elections expected in March.
Sharon is expected to take several prominent Likud Cabinet ministers with him to his new party, along with some from Labor — possibly including its ousted chairman Shimon Peres.
Advancing Israel's election from the original November 2006 date would likely sideline Mideast peace moves and counter whatever momentum was gained from Israel's withdrawal from Gaza and part of the West Bank, completed in September.
Sharon's Gaza pullout, a dramatic about-face after decades of settlement building and expansion in the West Bank and Gaza fractured his party. Rebels in the Likud faction in parliament withheld support from his initiatives.
On Monday, Sharon is to ask Israel's president to disperse the parliament, setting in motion a process leading to elections in March, Army Radio reported.
Increasingly frustrated by the Likud rebellion, Sharon decided on the daring step of leaving the party he helped create in 1973, according to Likud activists. That would leave Likud as a bastion of hardline opponents to compromise with the Palestinians.
"I regret Sharon's decision to leave and would have preferred that he continue his struggle within Likud," said Ehud Yatom, a Likud member of parliament who was among the leaders of the internal rebellion against Sharon.
Polls in weekend Israeli newspapers showed that if Sharon remains in Likud, it would maintain much of its present strength, while Labor's newly elected leader Amir Peretz would lead his party to a healthy increase. Sharon at the head of a new party would scramble the electoral picture, with Likud as the main loser, according to the polls.
Peretz had pushed for Labor to leave Sharon's government.
Separately, Palestinians are concentrating on their own parliamentary election, set for Jan. 25, with the violent Islamic group Hamas running candidates for the first time and posing a significant challenge to the ruling Fatah Party of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.
Fatah primary elections began Saturday in the desert oasis of Jericho, and as expected, the Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat won the nomination for the town's only seat, election officials said Sunday.
This month's surprise election of Peretz, a fiery union leader, as head of Labor accelerated the spiral toward early elections.
Labor joined Sharon's coalition government in January to buttress support for the Gaza pullout, but in one of his first moves, Peretz extracted letters of resignation from the eight Labor Cabinet ministers last week.
In a strident campaign speech, his first as party leader, Peretz told the convention that Sharon had partially corrected his mistake of building settlements in Gaza by pulling out, but he charged that in constructing them in the first place, Sharon had wasted "billions that could have been used to turn the education system around."
Blaming Sharon and his ex-finance minister Benjamin Netanyahu for increasing poverty and "humiliating" the poor, Peretz appealed to Israel's lower classes, traditionally Likud voters. "Come join the new social pact," he said, "you are not abandoning Likud. Likud has abandoned you," emphasizing social issues over Israel's traditional election deciders — security and the Palestinian issue.
In a brief reference to Mideast peacemaking, Peretz said he favors a united Jerusalem as Israel's capital and opposes permitting Palestinian refugees to return to Israel — an attempt to counter efforts to portray him as an extreme dove who would make far-reaching concessions to the Palestinians.
He also said that creation of a Palestinian state is in Israel's interest as well as the Palestinians'.
(© 2005 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)
Stingray: Conservative Christian News and Commentary
SHARON QUITS LIKUD
|Embattled Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has quit his right-wing Likud Party, leaving behind rebel hardliners in a bid to create a new centrist faction and ushering in a new political era ahead of early general elections next year.
Mr Sharon’s widely anticipated departure came after new Labour leader, Amir Peretz, won party backing for Labour to leave Israel’s governing coalition.
The split has precipitated an early run to the polls which were set for November next year.
“Senior Likud officials believe that Sharon is about to smash the existing political establishment in Israel to pieces and to build on its ruins a system that will crystallise and remain stable for years to come,” Israel’s Yediot Aharonot daily newspaper reported shortly before the announcements were made.
Mr Sharon’s decision to make a clean break after months of bitter in-fighting with Likud hardliners comes as a fresh direction for Labour was outlined by Mr Peretz, who took over as leader from party veteran, Shimon Peres, earlier this month.
Peretz rallies Labour
In his first impassioned speech, Mr Peretz told a Labour central committee meeting that the party should stop propping up the current regime and carve out a new path to peace for the Israeli nation.
“We are offering a real alternative to the apocalyptic outlook that there is no one to talk with, and that we must always live with our sword in hand,” Mr Peretz said, speaking in Tel Aviv.
“The need to get out of the sinking sands of the disputed Palestinian territories… is a national priority of the first degree,” he told the committee, saying Labour was willing to sign a permanent peace agreement with the Palestinians.
“Only an agreement which protects the interests of both sides has any chance of taking hold.”
Mr Peretz stands on a platform of rolling back spending cuts and free-market reforms, as well as withdrawing from West Bank settlements and talking peace with Palestinians as soon as possible.
The Labour leader also hit out at Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and the Likud Party, accusing them of playing the ‘security card’ as an excuse for ignoring Israel’s problems of chronic unemployment and poverty.
“For 28 years, they have scared us with the demon of security, saying ‘wait, wait until we have dealt with terror’.”
Political manoeuvring heats up
With a general election now three to four months away, jostling for political prominence has begun in earnest.
Mr Sharon has hinted at a continued relationship with Shimon Peres, with speculation rife that the two men will join forces in a new centrist party seeking to woo disaffected MPs from both Likud and Labour.
“I wanted to thank you for all your work within the government; it is the start of the joint work between us,” Mr Sharon told Mr Peres in his weekly cabinet meeting.
“Shimon, this is the beginning of (a new) cooperation.”
For Israel’s smaller right-wing parties, survival in the new political landscape will most likely come in the form of a united nationalist bloc.
“The national camp has been greatly weakened and if the right wants to succeed and survive, we need to unite the Likud, the National Union, the National Religious Party and Yisrael Beiteinu,” said former cabinet minister Avigdor Lieberman who was sacked over his opposition to the Gaza evacuations.
However, Likud must first take care of the immediate task of replacing Mr Sharon, with six senior members indicating their interest in taking over the party’s reins – including the prime minister’s arch rival, Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israel’s parliament will vote on an election date mid-week amid widespread expectations that polling will take place on March 28.
SOURCE: World News
This continuing political meltdown in Israel just shows the utter failure of democracy as a viable form of government.
Thank God our Founders gave us something much better.
Am I the only one who thinks this is big news?
It's enormously important. There is, however, not a great deal that most of us can do but watch and pray that the God of Jacob/Israel brings about that which is consistent with His will for these people.
Sharon abandoning Likud. This can only be good news for Bibi Netanyahu and Eretz Israel.
Iwas happy when Arafat left the face of the earth and I
ll be happy when Sharon is out of politics too....