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Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Israeli Civil War Update



Arutz Sheva: Civil War In Likud.

Likud “rebel” leader Uzi Landau Wednesday challenged Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s loyalty to the Likud, accusing him of creating a situation which could lead to elections and the end of the party.

Sharon carried out his threat and immediately fired Landau as cabinet minister and dismissed Michael Ratzon from his post as deputy minister after they cast their ballots against the Prime Minister’s proposal to unilaterally remove 25 Jewish communities from Gush Katif and northern Samaria.

Landau termed the Knesset vote in favor of the plan “kosher, but it stinks.” He admitted that Sharon had won the first battle, but “the major war is ahead of us. Our group of Likud MKs against disengagement brought a clear victory” in the party referendum several months ago in which Sharon’s forces suffered a lopsided defeat, he said in a press conference. “We are not a faction within the Likud. We are the real Likud. We prevented the great danger of the Labor party entering the coalition government.” The Likud central committee this summer formally voted against such a coalition.

More than half of the 40 Likud Knesset members have said they are against Sharon’s plan, although only 18 voted against it Tuesday night. Ratzon claimed that five others, including Finance Minister Bibi Netanyahu and Education Minister Limor Livnat, will join anti-Sharon forces in the next round of voting on the bill if the Prime Minister does not agree to a national referendum.

Landau’s unprecedented sharp and direct criticism of the Likud Prime Minister exposed the deep rift within the party. He said he tried to reach a compromise with Sharon, whom he accused of mocking Likud policy positions. Sharon is trying “to get the National Religious Party out of the government and force the entry of the Labor party into the government,” he added.

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