Israeli Minister Uzi Landau will meet Sunday afternoon in Tel-Aviv with 10 Likud MKs and 50 members of Likud Central committee to start a campaign to foil attempts to establish a unity government with Labor.

The meeting comes one day before the scheduled Monday morning meeting between Labor leader Shimon Peres and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

While a mild opposition to the idea is felt within Labor circles, opposition within Likud is seen as more serious.

Opposition within Labor, led by MKs Yuli Tamir and Eitan Cabel, would only gain momentum if Peres fails to convince Sharon to introduce changes in the government economical policies.

In general, a majority in Labor favors a unity government.

Yet, within Likud, the same group that torpedoed the disengagement plan in the latest party referendum is mobilizing again against the national unity government proposal.

If supporters of both ministers who fear losing their portfolios if Labor joins, namely Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, join the group, Sharon would be facing a serious internal problem.

Sharon attempted to cool down the fears of both ministers; he publicly praised Netanyahu’s economical policies and promised to try to keep the foreign ministry portfolio for Shalom even if an agreement with Labor is reached.

Sharon would most likely offer the defense portfolio to Labor.

The Tel-Aviv meeting is expected to propose that the national unity proposal should be approved in the Likud’s central committee; the strong hold of Likud hardliners.

Landau and his affiliates might as well propose another party referendum over the national unity issue. Sharon, out of the bitterness of the latest referendum, is expected to dismiss the idea.

 

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