Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

11 Tishrei 5766 - October 15, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Politica: Victors Have Problems Too

By E. Rauchberger

If someone thought Sharon's victory in the Likud Center will bring peace and quiet to the political scene in the near future, he is in for a big surprise. When the Knesset returns from the summer recess after the chagim Sharon will face a long list of tasks and problems to tackle, both old and new. Victors have problems, too.

His first task will be to try to unify the Likud and make it vote like a single party with 40 MKs rather than two separate parties. Over half of the Likud MKs, including the party and coalition chairmen, supported Netanyahu in the Likud Center vote and it will not be easy to bring them back in line with Sharon.

The rebel camp was founded primarily on ideological grounds, but not exclusively. Their ideology has not changed. They are still angry over the Disengagement and are not about to transform into faithful Sharon followers. On the other hand the rebels, too, know they the game has now shifted from ideological to political, as the Likud Center recently made clear.

Therefore at least some of the Likud Rebels have probably come to realize to get elected to the next Knesset ideology may be important in the Likud Center, but things like job handouts and other benefits are more important.

Sharon will invariably adopt a divide-and-conquer strategy to overcome the Rebels, reaching out to some and leaving others to wallow in their own mud. Gilad Arden, for instance, was the first to call on his fellow rebels to fall in line after the results of the vote were announced and now there are already rumors Sharon will offer him a post as deputy minister in exchange for assistance in straightening out the rebel camp.

There are also calls for Sharon to summon the leading rebel, Uzi Landau, to return to the government and take an important portfolio, e.g. commerce and industry, which will be available as soon as Olmert receives his permanent appointment as Finance Minister. This would serve as a gesture to the rebels and would isolate Netanyahu, leaving him alone with Ayub Kara, Michael Gorolovsky, Naomi Blumental and perhaps some other anonymous MK. Whether Landau would accept such an offer remains uncertain and if so he would be sure to issue policy stipulations and Sharon, as everybody knows, does not like when people make stipulations and demands.

The Ministerial Appointment Obstacle

Without putting order in the Likud Party, Sharon will be unable to function during the winter session, just as he found it hard to function last year after the Likud Party split into two. At the beginning of the winter session Sharon wants to gain Knesset approval for two MKs who stuck by him all along to become ministers, Roni Bar-On and Ze'ev Boim.

Sharon also needs the Knesset to approve the appointment of Ehud Olmert as finance minister since his temporary appointment as substitute minister will soon expire. Olmert is despised in the Likud for personal reasons. With so many opponents, Likud MKs could very conceivably approve the appointment of Bar-On and Boim, but not Olmert. In such a case Sharon would try to enlist Shinui's support since Tomi Lapid is known to have a close friendship with Olmert.

The portfolio designated for Bar-On is Commerce and Industry and the portfolio designated for Boim is Immigrant Absorption. But if he encounters many difficulties with Olmert's appointment while the other two ministers are approved more easily, Sharon might give the Finance Ministry to Meir Shetreet and then make Bar-On minister of transportation.

The Budget Hurdle

When the winter session begins Sharon will also have to address passing the 2006 budget in a first reading, which will be no easy matter since other coalition figures from Labor and the chareidi parties who also come into the game at this point.

Sharon does not like to be manipulated or forced to capitulate, but he is willing to pay up when necessary, as manifested when he gave Shinui NIS 700 million last year.

Now that the Disengagement is over the Labor Party has no business staying in the government. If they really want to vie against the Likud in the next elections they must resign from the government as soon as possible to retain their constituents' votes. The only issue that could justify the party's continued stay in the government is the budget. If Labor manages to change budgeting priorities and to direct large amounts of funding to development towns and confronting poverty then the party will be able to explain to the public why they remained in the Sharon government.

All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.