Thi s Week
As parties choose Knesset lists, results may affect next government.
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
Katz — all were relegated to bottom spots, with lit-
tle hope of winning Knesset seats.
On Dec. 11, Beilin and Dayan quit the Labor
ranks to run on the list of the leftist Meretz Party.
Sharon is aiming for the center ground, and suggest-
ed that his trump card will be Sharon's close coordi-
nation with the United States on the Palestinian
Last week, at a conference on Israel's national
security, Sharon reiterated his support for President
Bush's plan for a two-state solution with the
Palestinians. The timing and the message had been
carefully chosen: Sharon was laying the first major
building block for his two-pronged campaign
against both the parties to his right and Mitzna's
Labor on his left.
"The Israeli public realizes that
any divergence from the Bush plan
is not in the Israeli interest," Arad
said. "In a year and a half, we have
managed to reach understanding
with the U.S. on the tiniest details,
and any divergence will hurt our
relations with Washington."
he Likud Party's list of Knesset candi-
dates, chosen in a party primary this
week, left Ariel Sharon's campaign strate
gists scratching their heads.
Taken together, the composition of the Labor and
With national elections approaching on Jan. 28,
Likud lists makes it easier for Labor to fight for the
they had meticulously laid out a centrist strategy in
which the prime minister directs moderate peace
Indeed, according to Mdariv columnist Dan
messages at the large reservoir of floating voters
Margalit, Labor leader Amram Mitzna could hardly
between Labor and Likud, who take
a tough line on security but believe
in the possibility of a negotiated
peace agreement with the
Palestinians one day.
It is in the battle for the centrists
that Israeli elections are won and
lost, experts say. The problem for
Sharon's spin doctors is that the list
of Knesset candidates elected by the
Likud's 3,000-strong Central
Committee on Dec. 8 leans heavily
The implication is that Sharon not
toward the hawks. In contrast, the
only is ready to make peace, but can
Labor Party, which also voted for its
do so in full coordination with
Knesset list this week, shoved the
Washington, whereas Mitzna's plan,
doves to the back of the line and
which includes the possibility of a
promoted the party's centrists.
unilateral Israeli withdrawal from
In addition to determining which
the West Bank and Gaza Strip even
politicians are likely to rise to promi-
without a peace agreement, would
nence after the elections, the lists
not have American sanction.
may help determine whether Israel is
Labor leaders dismissed the
led by another unity government or
Sharon statement as electioneering.
whether its next government will tilt
Haim Ramon, chairman of the
strongly toward one side of the polit-
Knesset's Foreign Affairs and
Defense Committee, called it an
In Likud, all nine of the top spots
Labor leader Amram Mitzna
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
"election trap." Sharon, he says, has
after Sharon are occupied by people
absolutely no intention of negotiat-
opposed to President George W.
ing Palestinian statehood or evacuat-
Bush's "road map" to peace and Palestinian state-
have asked for a better slate — from the Likud.
ing Jewish settlewents.
hood, which Sharon says he supports. Environment
"Mitzna may not be able to prove that Sharon
On the other hand, Ramon says, Mitzna would
Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, who finished at the top of doesn't mean what he says" about wanting to negoti-
make a real effort to negotiate peace and, once elect-
the Central Committee poll behind the assured
ate peace on the basis of the Bush plan, Margalit
ed, also would coordinate his plans with the
spots for Sharon and Foreign Minister Binyamin
wrote. "But he will be able to say to the public that
Netanyahu, described the outcome as "a vote against even if Sharon is sincere, he won't be able to deliv-
Sharon's problems with Likud's Knesset list lie not
a Palestinian state."
only in winning the centrist vote from Labor. He
That kind of talk hardly helps Sharon's strategists
Writing in Yediot Aharonot, political analyst Sima
has far fewer supporters in high places on the list
project a credible centrist message. Labor Party strate-
Kadmon also suggested that Sharon would not be
than does his archrival, Netanyahu. Some confidants
gists, on the other hand, were delighted at the Knesset able to deliver peace unless he formed another
say that could restrict Sharon's freedom of action —
slate the party's 110,000 members chose on Monday.
national unity government with Labor as a counter-
forming a coalition with Labor, rather than the far-
Centrists like ex-generals Matan Vilnai, Efraim Sneh
weight to his own party.
right, if Likud wins the elections.
and Danny Yatom finished high on the list.
"With Likud hawks like Tzachi Hanegbi, Silvan
Netanyahu says he won't use his camp to under-
Labor's most dovish figures — Yossi Beilin, one of Shalom, Limor Livnat, Dan Naveh and Yisrael Katz,
mine Sharon's chances in the election. But after that,
the chief architects of the Oslo peace process; Yael
there is no Palestinian state, no evacuation of settle-
Netanyahu warned, how he acts will depend on
Dayan, a leading women's advocate; former Peace
ments, no Bush road map," Kadmon wrote.
what Sharon does. In other words, if Netanyahu is
Now leader Tsali Reshef; and Haifa lawyer Yossi
Campaign strategist Eyal Arad acknowledged that
denied a top ministry in a new Sharon government,