Sharon inclined to stay in Likud (JERUSALEM POST) By GIL HOFFMAN 11/13/05)
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Prime Minister Ariel Sharon wants to stay in the Likud and is leaning
against forming a new political party because he believes that he
could lead the Likud to a massive victory against new Labor chairman
Amir Peretz, sources close to Sharon said on Saturday night.
Sharon convened his "ranch forum" of advisers in Herzliya on Thursday
night to discuss the ramifications of Peretz´s victory. Sharon said
that Peretz´s victory would require him to decide his political
future this week, or next week at the latest.
Advisers Reuven Adler, Eyal Arad, Uri Shani, Yoram Raved, Yisrael
Maimon and Sharon´s sons Omri and Gilad participated in the meeting,
and a clear majority recommended remaining in the Likud. They advised
Sharon to give his opponents in the Likud faction another chance to
prove that they can cooperate with him and unite the party ahead of
"Sharon prefers the Likud because it´s his party and he doesn´t want
to search for a new one," a participant in the meeting said. "It´s
the Likud that made him feel unwanted, but if he is wanted, he will
stay. The Likud rebels have to decide whether they want to win big in
the next election or commit suicide. If they come to their senses and
decide they want Sharon, he will be there."
Likud rebel MK Michael Ratzon responded that his group would be
willing to cooperate with Sharon and unify the party. He said it was
up to the prime minister to come up with a political platform that
could keep the party together.
"Peretz´s election will allow us to sharpen our platform on
diplomatic and socio-economic issues because Labor under Peretz is to
the left of Meretz," Ratzon said. "Our path won 40 mandates last time
and it can win 50 this time. If Sharon wants to do that, we will be
happy to cooperate. But if he wants to continue fighting us, he will
try again to appoint his lackeys to the cabinet."
Peretz threatened on Saturday night to topple Sharon´s government
already on Wednesday. He was angry that Sharon decided to meet with
him only on Thursday after they discussed the possibility of meeting
"If the meeting with Sharon does not take place at the beginning of
the week, we will have to topple the government already on
Wednesday," Peretz told Channel 2. "Sharon acted irresponsibly by
delaying our meeting and stalling. I know how to play political
tricks too. The era in which Sharon can treat other parties like his
marionettes is over."
Sharon´s associates responded that Sharon genuinely does not have
time to meet with Peretz until Thursday because of the large number
of world leaders who came to Israel for the ceremonies marking the
10th anniversary of the Rabin assassination. They said that Sharon
did not mean to slight Peretz, but that he would have to wait his
turn to meet with Sharon after US Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice, former US president Bill Clinton, New York Senator Hilary
Clinton and other dignitaries.
National Religious Party leader Zevulun Orlev said on Saturday night
that he intends to present his proposal to disperse the Knesset on
Wednesday even if Peretz asks him to delay the vote until after his
meeting with Sharon. If the proposal falls, a bill dissolving the
Knesset would not be able to be raised for six months.
Peretz said in the Channel 2 interview that if he were not elected
prime minister, he would not agree to join a national unity
government. He said that after the election he would either be prime
minister or leader of the opposition.
Polls published over the weekend indicated that support for Labor
increased significantly since Peretz´s election on Wednesday. A
Dialogue poll published in Ha´aretz found that Labor would receive 28
seats in the Knesset, compared to 39 for a Sharon-led Likud. A
Teleseker poll in Ma´ariv predicted that Sharon´s Likud would win 37
seats and Peretz´s Labor 27.
The Dialogue poll found that if Sharon decided to form a new party
with top Likud officials and outsiders like former Shin Bet chief Avi
Dichter, his party would win 32 mandates, Labor 27 and a Netanyahu-
led Likud 25.
Dichter told Ma´ariv over the weekend that he would decide soon
whether to enter politics or the business world. (© 1995 - 2005 The
Jerusalem Post. 11/13/05)
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