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February 16, 1990 - Image 37

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-02-16

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

INSIGHT

ZE'EV CHAFETS

Israel Correspondent

O

n Monday, the long
awaited Likud Cen-
tr al Committee
meeting took place in Tel
Aviv's Exhibition Gardens.
After a month of ballyhoo,
hype and mutual recrimina-
tions, the showdown bet-
ween party leader Yitzhak
Shamir and opposition
cabinet ministers Ariel Sha-
ron, David Levi and Yitzhak
Modai ended in a victory for
Shamir — and drew the par-
ty to the edge of a permanent
split.
The meeting began with a
dramatic announcement by
Minister of Commerce and
Industry Ariel Sharon, who
also heads the party's Cen-
tral Committee, that he was
resigning from the govern-
ment. Amid shouts of protest
from his supporters, Sharon
read his letter of ' igna-
tion, in which he s. ad that
the present government's
policies threaten the nation-
al goals that he is committed
to pursuing.
Following Sharon's resig-
nation, Prime Minister
Shamir took the rostrum to
deliver an impassioned
defense of his performance
in office. Shamir called for a
vote of confidence from the
three thousand member
Central Committee.
"The time has come," he
said, "to let the public know
who speaks for the Likud —
me, or those who slander me.
I am turning to, you, the
members of the Central
Committee, with a request
and a question: Will you give
me a vote of confidence?"
Hundreds of hands shot
into the air, but Shamir was
not alone on the podium.
Ariel Sharon seized a second
microphone. "I ask the
members of the Central
Committee, all those in
favor of wiping out terror-
ism, raise your hands, " he
called in a loud, clear-voice.
"All those in favor of keep-
ing expelled Palestinians

Shamir and Moshe Shahal listen to Sharon's resignation.

Shamir Gains Strengt
In Clash With Sharon

But the battle pushes the Likud
factions to the precipice of a
permanent split within the ranks.

out of the Palestinian dele-
gation to peace talks, raise
your hands. All those in
favor of barring East
Jerusalem Arabs from par-
ticipating in elections (in the
West Bank and Gaza), raise
your hands."
For a few moments, the
Prime Minister and Sharon
tried to out shout one an-
other as the confused dele-
gates raised their hands
without knowing precisely
what they were voting for.
Finally Shamir declared
himself the victor.
"I have received a massive
majority," he said, "and I
thank the Central Com-
mittee for its vote of con-
fidence."
Not to be outdone, Sharon,
too, declared victory. "The
resolutions (that I offered)

have been accepted," he
called over his microphone.
"I declare that whatever
takes place in this hall after
the vote (of confidence) is in-
valid," retorted Shamir, and
left the auditorium. Sharon
remained on the podium and

"If Shamir enters
our line of fire, it
won't be us who
kills him; he will
have committed
suicide."
Yitzhak Modai

tried to restore order, but the
meeting was, for all prac-
tical purposes, over.
More surprises were yet to
come. Following the

meeting, Deputy Prime Min-
ister David Levi who, along
with Sharon, has led the
internal opposition to
Shamir, met privately with
the Prime Minister in what
he described as "the interest
of party unity."
The two adversaries
emerged with a statement
calling for harmony. Asked
whether he had coordinated
this move with his ally Sha-
ron, Levi replied that he did
not have to report his actions
to anyone.
In the aftermath of Mon-
day's dramatic events, polit-
ical observers are now trying
to make sense of the new
situation. Most see it as a
conditional victory for Prime
Minister Shamir and a seri-
ous defeat for Sharon.
The prime minister, who is

supported by eight of the 11
Likud cabinet ministers and
30 of its 40 Knesset mem-
bers, emerged as a strong
leader from the confronta-
tion. Although no one
7
1 counted the votes, it is gen-
E
erally assumed that he has
the backing of at least 60
percent of the Central Corn-
cc mittee.
Shamir also succeeded in
preventing the party from
taking the hawkish turn
that Sharon advocated. In
doing so, he preserved the
Government of National
Unity, at least for the time
being.
On Monday night, Defense
Minister Yitzhak Rabin, one
of the leaders of the Labor
Party, declared that the
events in the Likud Central
Committee presented his
party with no reason for
leaving the coalition
government.
The prime minister also
made it clear that he would
accept Sharon's resignation.
"This man wants to destroy
the Likud," he said, referr-
ing to Sharon. "As long as I
am party chairman and
prime minister, I won't
allow that to happen."
Shamir's angry blast came
partly in reaction to the
campaign of personal
villification that Sharon and
his allies have waged
against the prime minister
and his supporters.
Earlier this month, Sharon
charged Foreign Minister
Moshe Arens, who is .
Shamir's choice as eventual
successor, with having been
a draft dodger during the
1948 War of Independence.
Last week, Yitzhak Modai
warned that "if Shamir
enters our line of fire, it
won't be us who kills him; he
will have committed
suicide." Modai also ridi-
culed the prime minister's
small physical stature. Such
highly personal rhetoric
makes it unlikely that Sha-
ron and Modai will be read-
mitted to the party inner
circle in the near future.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

37

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