December 23, 2002
of the more right-wing Likud ministers, Public Security Minister Uzi Landau
and Environment Minister Tzachi HaNegbi, say they may not be able to be ministers
in the upcoming government. Landau said today that he would forego a ministerial
post if it comes with having to support a Palestinian state, as Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon appears to be demanding.
Sharon, meeting with his fellow Likud ministers yesterday, asked them
to support his positions, including no opposition to the establishment of
a Palestinian state. When HaNegbi replied that he does not intend to represent
a line that “stands in 180-degree opposition to my ideological position,”
and that he “has not been a member of the Likud for over two decades in order
to find myself supporting a Palestinian state,” Sharon said he would not
agree to have ministers in his government act contrary to his own positions.
HaNegbi asked Sharon not to threaten, and the latter closed the discussion
by saying he should have the ministers over one evening so that he can explain
his position and convince them. Other current ministers who oppose a PA
state are Limor Livnat, Danny Naveh, and Ruby Rivlin.
IMRA notes that Sharon’s Likud party last week confirmed its party platform
explicitly opposing the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Aides to Sharon say that his frequent references to a PA state are designed
to stem the tide of centrist-leaning voters who are leaving the Likud in
favor of the anti-religious but slightly hawkish Shinui party. The aides
say that Sharon has received word of “very worrisome surveys” indicating
this trend – though they did not mention that that which draws centrist voters
might scare away right-wing voters. Labor Party leader Amram Mitzna also
appears to be afraid of Shinui. He told a crowd in Be’er Sheva last night
that Shinui is a “contrary” party: “They’re anti-Arab, anti-kibbutzim, anti-moshavim,
anti-religious, anti-everything… I don’t know what [Shinui leader] Tommy
Lapid stands *for.*”