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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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Ariel Sharon: Maker and Breaker

By M. Halevy

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was the man who set up the Likud nearly 30 years ago and now he is the man dismantling the party.

Sharon took his first steps in politics after resigning from the IDF as a general, becoming one of the architects of the party's formation.

In 1965 Gachal came together based on the Cherut Party and the Liberal Party (General Zionists). The fusion of these two opposition parties posed a threat—for the first time since the founding of the State—to the political power of Mapai (now Labor). The opposition was extremely fragmented. At first the union seemed impossible, yet they managed to survive two election campaigns, increasing their power but not taking over the government.

In the early 70s Arik Sharon arrived on the scene after leaving the Army in early 1973 and he began to work toward the setup of the Likud. He built the Likud by bringing new organizations into Gachal. In the 1973 elections the Likud ran for the first time, winning an impressive 39 mandates. But Maarach retained power with 51. Nevertheless it became clear that the Likud's rise to power was likely a question of time.

Sharon himself was elected to the Knesset — only to resign due to internal disputes. When the Yom Kippur War broke out he went back into uniform.

Shortly before the 1977 elections Sharon started the Shlomtzion Party, running on an independent Knesset list and winning two mandates.

Those elections hold a prominent place in Israeli political history due to the transformation that took place in the Likud. Menachem Begin defeated then Maarach Chairman Shimon Peres and the Likud took over the reins for the first time in Israeli history, winning 43 mandates compared to the Maarach's 32. Menachem Begin became prime minister and Sharon of Shlomtzion became minister of agriculture. A short time later Sharon returned to the Likud.

By the following elections Sharon had become a central figure. After the elections he was given the defense portfolio and he led the government and the country to the Lebanon War in 1982.

In 1983 Menachem Begin resigned from his posts as prime minister and party chairman because of the war in Lebanon, and Yitzchak Shamir was elected. Meanwhile Sharon was setting up his own camp in the Likud.

In the 1984 elections the Likud and Labor tied and Sharon became the architect of a national unity government based on a rotational agreement in which both Peres and Shamir served as prime minister. The unity government lasted for six years. In the subsequent Likud government Sharon was appointed housing minister and he invested heavily in Judea and Samaria.

When the Likud, led by Binyamin Netanyahu, regained power four years later, David Levy forced Netanyahu to create a high-ranking portfolio for Sharon; thus the Ministry of National Infrastructures was born. In the middle of his term Netanyahu made Sharon his defense minister.

Following Netanyahu's loss to Barak in the 1999 elections Sharon was chosen to head the Likud and in 2001 he trounced Barak in special prime ministerial elections. In the 2003 elections Sharon defeated Amram Mitzna, leading the Likud to a major victory with 38 mandates.

The rift between Sharon and the Likud began during this second term as a result of the Disengagement Plan.

Will this move lead to the end of the Likud or the end of Sharon's political career? Only time will tell.


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