Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

22 Cheshvan 5766 - November 23, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Sharon Leaves Likud — Tumultuous Election Campaign Expected

by M Plaut and Yated Ne'eman Staff

Prime Minister Sharon announced on Monday that he will leave the Likud and start his own party to run in the upcoming elections. Instant polls showed the new party winning 30 Knesset seats, to 26 for Labor and only 15 for Likud. This would mean that Sharon would form the next government. These results are not a reliable indicator for the elections to be held in three months' time or more.

The Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee is to discuss on Tuesday the preparation of bills to disperse the Knesset. Committee chairman MK Michael Eitan (Likud) said that he hopes the legislation process will be complete as early as Wednesday afternoon.

Sharon also went to President Katzav and asked him to dissolve the Knesset and hold elections. Doing the process through Katzav rather than the Knesset bill would set an earlier date for elections (at the beginning of March) and would also allow Sharon to appoint interim ministers without Knesset approval. With most of the Knesset hostile to him, he would have a hard time getting any ministerial appointments approved there. However, the Labor Party may agree to support ministerial appointments.

The President believes that he should be the one to dissolve the Knesset.

In order to form a new political party that would preserve the financial and publicity rights of an existing party, the new party must comprise at least a third of an existing party. These rights include advance funding for the campaign, and free broadcast time in the mass media. Without these incumbent benefits, the task of setting up a new party is immeasurably harder. Since the Likud had 40 seats, Sharon had to get at least 14 MKs to join him. He did it.

Knesset factions are eligible for NIS 1.146 million per MK, of which they receive 60 percent — NIS 687,000 per MK — after submitting their lists to the Central Elections Committee (CEC). They receive another 25 percent with the publication of the election results. The remaining 15 percent is transferred after the state comptroller confirms that they have not violated the party funding law.

Election funding is based on the average of lawmakers in the outgoing and the incoming Knesset. This includes all seats that the party had at its highest. Thus the Likud will receive an election advance based on 40 mandates despite the withdrawal of 14 MKs who have moved over to Sharon's party. Based on the current configuration, it appears that the Knesset will pay election advances for at least 136 MKs instead of 120. A similar approach is used to calculate the broadcast time allotted.

The 14 who have so far joined Sharon are: ministers Ehud Olmert, Meir Shetreet, Tzipi Livni, Avraham Hirchson and Gideon Ezra, as well as Ruhama Avraham, Eli Aflalo, Yaakov Edri, Ze'ev Boim, Roni Bar-On, Marina Solodkin, Omri Sharon and Majali Wahabi. Prime Minister Sharon is the 14th.

Other additional candidates in the new party who have been mentioned include former Shin Bet security service chief Avi Dichter, and Labor Party minister Chaim Ramon. Shimon Peres has also been mentioned as a possibility but he said that he was not interested.

The name mentioned for the party was Kadima, but as we go to press it has not been finalized.

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz decided not to join Sharon, opting to run for the Likud leadership instead. Minister- without-Portfolio Chaim Ramon was the only Labor MK to join the party but negotiations will certainly be conducted with other Likud figures, Labor officials and key public figures.

The prime minister said that the new party would focus on advancing the road map peace plan, changing the electoral system and fighting terror, violence, poverty and corruption.

"After many misgivings, I decided to leave the Likud party," Sharon announced. "In its present form, the Likud cannot lead Israel toward its national goals."

"Staying in the Likud means wasting time on political struggles instead of acting on behalf of the state," Sharon said.

Sharon said that if elected he would try to form a national- unity government with new Labor chairman Amir Peretz. He hinted that he might not bring the Likud into his government.

Sharon said that he intended to "lay the foundation for a peace agreement in which the country's permanent borders would be determined," but he firmly ruled out further unilateral withdrawals in the West Bank.


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