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January 26, 1990 - Image 37

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-01-26

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

I NSIGHT

Ariel Sharon, minister of commerce and industry.

Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir.

ZE'EV CHAFETS

Israel Correspondent

O

n February 7, when
the 3,000 members of
the Likud's Central
Committee gather at Tel
Aviv's Exhibition Gardens,
the ostensible purpose of the
meeting will be to discuss
the current impasse in
Israeli diplomacy. But actu-
ally, the meeting will be an-
other round in one of Israel's
most bitter grudge fights
-between Prime Minister
Yitzhak Shamir and Ariel
Sharon, the minister of
Commerce and Industry.
The two adversaries have
faced each other before.
Last July 5, Sharon and
his allies, Likud cabinet
ministers David Levy and
Yitzhak Modai, convinced
the Central Committee to
impose "restrictions" on the
Shamir Peace Plan, in-
cluding clauses forbidding
negotiation with the
Palestinians until the in-
tifada (uprising) is over, and
the exclusion of the Arabs of
East Jerusalem from any
future West Bank election.
Shamir was able to sidestep
those "restrictions," which
were widely interpreted as a
defeat for the prime min-
ister, by having his original
plan re-approved by the
Government of National
Unity. Since then, however,
the proposal has stalled,
partly as a result of the
hawkish criticism generated
by Sharon and his cohorts.
Sharon has repeatedly
criticized the Shamir scheme
as a dangerous deviation
from Likud orthodoxy. He
has warned that it threatens

Infighting
Splits Likud

But Shamir and Sharon have
exchanged harsh words before.

the unity of Jerusalem and
could endanger national
security by setting the stage
for a Palestinian state in the
West Bank and Gaza.
Sharon has stopped short
of accusing Shamir of sup-
porting such goals, but he
argues that the prime min-
ister's proposals lead in that
direction. At the next mon-
th's meeting, he is expected
to offer resolutions further
limiting Shamir's freedom of
action.
The preliminary skir-
mishing has already begun.
This week, Shamir met with
a group of Likud activists in
his Jerusalem office and de-
nounced Sharon.
hard to stand a situa-
tion in which Israel is being
attacked by its external
enemies and, at the same
time, members of the party

attack from within, accusing
me of weakness and giving
in too easily," Shamir said.
He also claimed that
Sharon's behavior is harm-
ful to the party.
"The situation in the
Likud is worse and more se-
rious than it was last July,"
Shamir said. "The Central
Committee will have to
decide on February 7 if it is
prepared to give a vote of
confidence to the present
leadership."
Sharon responded by say-
ing that party solidarity is a
secondary issue.
"The problem isn't that
the situation in the party is
serious," Sharon said this
week. "The situation in the
country is serious, the status
of Jerusalem and the defense
situation are serious. It's not
a personal matter."

• Despite Sharon's
disclaimer, politicians and
observers in Israel regard
the Shamir-Sharon feud as a
highly personal one. In the
past, Sharon challanged
Shamir for the party's top
spot. And Sharon continues
to have prime ministerial
ambitions.
Last week in an interview
with the afternoon daily
newspaper Yediot Aharonot,
he said he has "the proper
qualifications" for the job. If
he were to become prime
minister, he said he would
carry out his duties "exactly
as they should be carried
out."
This remark has been
widely interpreted as the
latest in a series of Sharon
attacks on the prime min-
ister's performance. The two
men have exchanged harsh

words on a number of occa-
sions, particularly following
the recent Ezer Weizman af-
fair.
Shamir originally dismiss-
ed Weizman from his cabinet
for holding private talks
with the Palestine Libera-
tion Organization. Later
Shamir relented and allowed
Weizman to remain.
Sharon denounced this
decision as weakness and
claimed that it demonstrates
that "Shamir cannot stand
up under pressure." The
prime minister retaliated by
calling Sharon's style
"repulsive."
Sharon also bears a grudge
against Shamir for refusing
to appoint him defense min-
ister, a post he held in the
early 1980s, under
Menachem Begin. In 1983,
in the wake of a commission
of inquiry into the massacres
at the Sabra and Shatilla
refugee camps near Beirut,
Sharon was forced to step
down.
Since the start of the in-
tifada, he has criticised
Shamir and Defense Min-
ister Yitzhak Rabin for be-
ing unable to restore order,
and has openly campaigned
for the top defense post.
This week he labeled
Shamir's refusal to offer him
the job "a combination of ob-
jective and personal
reasons."
Party insiders believe that
Sharon's current goal is to
use the Central Committee
to strangle the Shamir Peace
Plan. If that should happen,
the Labor Party would likely
leave the Government of Na-
tional Unity, setting the
stage for a possible narrow

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

37

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