After the Likud convention decided to disqualify
labor as a coalition partner, mounting voices in the Labor Party are
calling for an immediate halt to coalition talks with Likud

Negotiation-team member MK Benjamin Ben-Eliezer said he would demand
the team be disbanded. ‘We cannot sit in a government with a prime
minister who is a lame duck… we must reach an understanding with the
Likud about early elections,’ he said.

MKs Dalia Itzik, Ophir Pines-Paz and Ephraim Sneh also called for early
elections. Labor Party Chairman Shimon Peres will convene the
negotiation team to further discuss the matter.

Sharon to Press on Coalition Talks, Disengagement, Despite Likud Rebuke

Aides to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Thursday that he
intended to push ahead with the disengagement plan and talks over a
Likud-Labor unity government, despite his defeat in the Likud

‘The results of the vote will not affect the diplomatic process or the
disengagement, the prime minister intends to continue contacts toward a
unity government with Labor.” They told Israel radio.

Sharon Received Double Slap at Likud Convention

Not only the Likud Rebels proposal passed, but Israeli Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon’s face saving proposal was rejected Wednesday at the Likud

Even as the wounded Prime minister considered the voting in the Likud
central committee as non-binding, he stepped out of the meeting
bleeding and tied handed.

Commentators believe that even if Sharon was sincere in his intentions
to implement his disengagement plan, he is incapable of moving even for
one step ahead.

The opposition proposal to ban Labor from joining the governmental
coalition passed with 843 to 612. Sharon’s proposal to allow the party
to hold coalition talks with all “Zionist” parties was defeated by 5

Unless Sharon goes in total defiance to his party, risking a serious
split, he would not be able to bring in, nor will be able to continue
talks with, Labor.

Without labor Sharon knows that Likud hardliners together with any
other potential right wing or ultra-orthodox partners will not allow
the implantation of disengagement.

Once again Sharon pointed finger at Finance Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu, who clearly opposed inviting labor to join the ruling
coalition, but sat at the wall watching. Sharon expected Netanyahu to
stand with him after the Prime Minister fully backed his controversial
2005 state budget, risking the continuity of coalition talks with

Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, who totally allied with Likud rebels,
decided together with Netanyahu to keep their mouths shut during the

Sharon aids are trying to play down the results of the Wednesday voting
by pointing to the fact that Sharon won a large majority at the polling
station reserved for Likud MKs and minister 24-11 in favor of Sharon’s
proposal and 15-19 against the “Rebels” proposal.

Yet, as Likud MKs are elected by the party central committee, it is
unlikely for them to raise hands in support for any move that the
strong hold of Likud hardliners rejects.

Likud rebels are not rebels anymore; they have proven once again to be the house owners.

While addressing the convention, Sharon and his supporters repeatedly
reminded delegates that wining people’s confidence was only due to
Sharon’s policies, warning that if Likud is seen once again as a party
of right wing hardliners and as a rejections party, people of Israel
would turn back to it.

Opposition speakers pointed to the fact that if the prime minister was
interested in a stable government, he would be able immediately to form
a cabinet backed by 70 MKs representing right wing and ultra-orthodox

They claimed that their stand against Labor’s joining was a stand against a “path”, not a party.

Labor spokesperson commented on the voting results by saying that the
Likud convention decision was a clear declaration that Likud rejects

The head of labor’s coalition talks team MK Daliah Itzic called her
party to halt talks with Likud, warning that she would resign the team
if labor decided differently.