A vote by Likud to reject a coalition with Labor to push through Gaza disengagement is being presented as a major setback for Ariel Sharon:
Likud’s Central Committee, its decision-making body, voted by a 58% majority to prevent PM Ariel Sharon from negotiating with the opposition Labor party. By a narrow margin, even Sharon’s modest proposal to allow him to talk with any Zionist party was rejected. The PM vowed to pursue his course and talk with Labor anyway. Most Likud Ministers and Knesset Members supported him.
In his speech, interrupted by frequent catcalls and boos, Sharon attacked the “rebellious and irresponsible” parts of the body that opposed him. “Unfortunately, there is a group within the party that has been plotting against the government since its establishment,” he said. “This is not the behavior expected from members of the ruling party.”
That last bit sounds like Jean Chretien speaking to Paul Martin. But anyway…
This is one of the problems with fighting a war in a democracy. All the decision-making is done in public; all the dirty laundry gets to be dissected by the international press. Arafat, in contrast, can just shoot anyone who opposes him. Much less messy or controversial, I suppose.
Anyway, the opposition is busy talking about how bad this is for Sharon’s government:
A Labor Party spokesman said that the decision would inevitably lead to elections: “The Likud convention decided that it wants to see the Likud refusing peace and destroying any chance of ending violence in the region. If this position is adopted elections will be required.”
But ultimately, the disengagement plan will happen. Ariel Sharon is – politically – the cat with nine lives. Every other week, some media outlet predicts the collapse of his government and the end of his political career. They’ve always been wrong until now. We’ll probably see that repeated again here.