Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

11 Tammuz 5764 - June 30, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Politica: War of Nerves

By E. Rauchberger

Former Knesset Chairman Avraham Burg resigned from the Knesset this week and is taking a break from political life until the next elections, now scheduled for three years from now. A staunch opponent of bringing Labor into the government, Burg predicts the party will eventually join Sharon in the government and under such circumstances he does not want to have anything to do with the Knesset.

Burg is not the only one who believes Labor is bound to join Sharon's government, but until this takes place a real war is being waged between the two sides, a war of nerves.

Recently the Labor Party realized the Prime Minister is simply making a laughing stock of them. He takes advantage of the safety net they have spread for him, but offers nothing in return.

When they grasped what was happening they decided to cast no- confidence votes on Sharon's social policy and even submitted a no confidence motion of their own to send a clear message to Sharon and the coalition heads: no more free votes.

The war of nerves between Sharon and Labor is an embodiment of the political game currently being played out. Sharon wants to receive goods at bargain prices and Labor wants to hand over the goods for as much as they can get. Sharon would like to talk Peres and his fellow party members into dropping their demands for the Foreign or Finance Ministry portfolio in order to avoid problems with the Likud, and to talk them down from seven highly-regarded portfolios, like Education and Trade and Industry, to five or six portfolios.

Meanwhile Sharon wants Labor to yield on economic policy and join the government based on the current economic/social policy. Otherwise he will run into trouble with Netanyahu and Lapid, the fathers of Thatcher-Reagan type capitalism.

In this war of nerves anything goes. The chareidi parties, especially UTJ, are being brandished to scare Labor into joining at a bargain price -- or else a suitable alternative will be found.

UTJ representatives have been holding talks with ranking Likud officials including the Prime Minister, the Finance Minister and most of all the Prime Minister's son, MK Omry Sharon and Coalition Chairman MK Gidon Saar. The idea of bringing UTJ into the coalition has come up on more than one occasion during the course of these talks, but both sides are well aware that as long as Shinui is in it would not be realistic, both from Shinui's perspective and UTJ's perspective.

Therefore the talks have focused on outside support for various votes in the Knesset in exchange for lessening the decrees imposed on the chareidi sector over the past year and a half.

The Flying Opposition Chairman

MK Roni Bar-On, who has long become the Likud's top speaker, delivered a knockout speech in the Knesset plenum last week on the topic of bringing Labor into the coalition.

Upset over Shimon Peres' recent remarks against Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu due to the latter's staunch opposition against bringing Labor into the government, Bar-On quipped that Peres said what he said because he suffers from old age or jet lag. "He doesn't know whether he's here or there, whether he's in America or at this wedding or that funeral of some president or Bush's birthday party. He comes and goes, a flying opposition chairman. The man doesn't know where he is. He has simply cast off the reins. I'm telling you straight out," he said, turning toward Labor MKs, "you are not going to join the government."

After continuing to bash Peres, Bar-On explained why Labor was not destined to join the coalition. "When I speak about expanding the government, no matter in which direction, it's like bringing a strategic partner into a business. In the business world when you bring in a partner, the partner brings money. In politics, when you bring in a partner you have to pay him money. So now, if it has been decreed upon us to replace a partner since it has already been decreed we will have to pay money. If you ask me I would rather pay a bit of money that will go toward worthy causes and people in need and the Torah world than to pay them [Labor] billions for the destruction of the economic program, for the Bolshevik economy you will reinstate here, for an economy of committees, an economy of monopolies. You would cost us many times more than our real, original partners would. Therefore if you ask me, from an economic standpoint, give me a break from [matters of] style, give me a break from jet lag, give me a break from the flying opposition chairman."

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