PM maintains ambiguity; Likud rebels seek unity (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Mazal Mualem 11/17/05)
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MK Michael Eitan emerged from the Likud faction meeting yesterday
scowling. "He didn´t answer," he complained to reporters about Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon. Sharon had ignored all questions about whether
he was staying in the Likud.
"He´s holding the card to split the Likud and doesn´t want to give an
answer. It´s not reasonable behavior. I said to him, I understand
that you´re mulling the issue but keep it to yourself. Why do you
have to send your aides to say you´re mulling?"
"It´s unreasonable and illogical that the Likud´s chairman hasn´t yet
said whether he´s contending in the Likud," said MK Uzi Landau, whose
queries also met with silence.
Even yesterday, when it was clear the elections would be moved
forward and that Peres, the comfortable partner, was no longer
leading the Labor Party, Sharon still refrained from committing
Aides to Sharon still talk of his option to form a new party and say
the rebels will continue to make his life a misery, even if he brings
them 40 Knesset seats.
The rebels are once again seeking to be close to Sharon, alarmed by
Peretz and by the prospect of the Likud´s shrinking in the elections,
which would leave some of them out of the next Knesset.
Even the calls for reconciliation and for Sharon to stay did not
crack the prime minister´s wall of silence.
"Nobody really believes the rebels´ gestures of reconciliation," a
Sharon aide said. "They´re acting this way because they´re dead
scared Arik will leave them; they want to enter the Knesset on his
back, and a day later they´ll be back with their rebellions."
They cited Landau´s statement, that he would accept the leadership of
whoever is elected, as long as he adheres to the ways of the
Likud. "He´s conditioning his support for the elected candidate. What
kind of new approach is that?" an aide said.
Netanyahu was also criticized. "He wants elections in May. He´s in a
panic," the source said.
Sharon is continuing to use the vagueness that served him before the
face off with Netanyahu in the Likud Central Committee meeting,
especially now, with Amir Peretz threatening from the wings.
Even if Sharon has decided to stay in the Likud, he will not abandon
this weapon. He knows that as soon as he promises to stay in the
Likud, his weapon will be neutralized.
Everyone agreed on one thing: Peretz managed to pull the Likud
together, even if the unity is fake or based on fear of political
Deputy Minister MK Eli Aflalo, a staunch Sharon supporter, said a
taxi driver told him he was going to vote for Labor.
MK Haim Katz, formerly a member of the rebels, offered his own
diagnosis: "Amir has branches all over the country full of paid
Histadrut activists. It´s time we woke up. The next elections will be
based on ethnic sectors. Amir is denying it, but his people are
calling him ´our prime minister´ in Moroccan." (© Copyright 2005
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