The Likud Party voted Monday night never to allow the
creation of a Palestinian state, defying Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon and apparently supporting his rival Binyamin
The vote does not change the policy of the current coalition
government, but makes it harder to move negotiations forward
between the parties, especially now that the U.S. has
publicly endorsed the creation of such a state.
Mr. Sharon himself has said that a Palestinian state is
inevitable, although in a strong speech to the party meeting
he demanded an end to Palestinian terrorism and the enactment
of political reform among the Palestinians before there is
any talk of establishing a state.
The vote is bound to anger the Arab world by suggesting that
Palestinians should not expect a state to emerge from
negotiations with Israel, and thereby giving an advantage to
groups like the Hamas, which argue for continued armed
The Likud Party vote tonight was orchestrated by former prime
minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who wants to lead the party into
elections. Mr. Netanyahu had bet on the Sharon government
lasting only a few months, and he remains popular within
Likud, taking a stance even further to the right of Mr.
Sharon's and calling for the expulsion or elimination of Mr.
Mr. Netanyahu, who still controls the Likud central committee
from his own time as prime minister, organized the vote to
undermine Mr. Sharon within his own party, at a time when Mr.
Sharon has his highest approval ratings in opinion polls for
his tough stance against terrorism and his military campaign
against the Palestinians in the West Bank.
Mr. Sharon has talked of an independent Palestinian state,
but essentially a demilitarized one, without the means to