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More On Yesterday´s Stormy Likud Meeting

In yesterday's Likud Knesset faction meeting, Prime Minister Sharon found himself on the sharp end of some biting attacks by several of his party's MKs.
First Publish: 5/27/2003, 7:14 PM

In yesterday's Likud Knesset faction meeting, Prime Minister Sharon found himself on the sharp end of some biting attacks by several of his party's MKs. MK Michael Ratzon, a high-ranking officer in the reserves, said:
"I remember Menachem Begin speaking in the streets about our historic rights to the Land - not about security. It seems that we have forgotten our rights to this Land. If it's just a matter of security, we can have that in Stockholm or in Paris. But if we forget our historic rights to this Land, then everything else is just a matter of time." Ratzon also said that the "road to hell is paved with good intentions - and this plan is hell."

The two former Yisrael B'Aliyah MKs were split between them, with Marina Solodkin in favor of the Road Map decision, and Yuli Edelstein against (and not as reported yesterday).

In any event, Sharon's aides have now learned their lesson. Likud Director-General Arik Brami now refuses to allow opponents of the Road Map - including three Cabinet Ministers - to convene on Sunday at Likud headquarters in Metzudat Ze'ev. He explained to the organizers, members of the Forum for the Preservation of Likud Values, that he would not give a stage to those who so strongly criticize the Prime Minister.

Attorney-General Bans Sharon's New Terminology - replace in gov and pol, old name is PM"s terminology.
Prime Minister Sharon used the word "conquest" or "occupation" four times in his talk yesterday to the Likud MKs, saying that controlling 3.5 million people is "bad." Using this word to refer to the Israeli presence in its historic homeland areas of Judea, Samaria and Gaza, was widely seen as yet another step further to the left following the government's acceptance of the concept of a Palestinian state west of the Jordan.

Sharon "clarified" his remarks today, explaining that his intention was that he "does not want to rule over the Palestinian population," i.e., he was referring to the people, and not the land. Sharon told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that he would use the term "disputed territories," in accordance with the Attorney-General's instructions.

Sharon told his Likud Party colleagues yesterday that "keeping 3.5 million Palestinians under conquest is bad" and that it must be stopped. This word has always been a buzzword for left-wing spokesmen, while the nationalist camp views our presence there as justified, both in terms of Jewish historic rights and Israel's defense.

Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, asked this morning about Sharon's use of the word, evaded the question, saying, "Everyone uses his own terminology. The important thing is that the world wants to see this dispute resolved…"

Public Security Minister Uzi Landau, one of the leaders within the Likud against the Road Map plan, says that Sharon made a grave error in using the word "conquest." He said that if our presence in Judea and Samaria is conquest, "then the State of Israel's presence in the cities of the coastal plane [Tel Aviv, etc.] is a much worse occupation. We were in Beit El and Shilo way before we were in Tel Aviv, formerly known as Sheikh Munis."

Minister Yisrael Katz, the other Likud minister who voted against the Road Map, refrained from criticizing the Prime Minister this morning. His way of negating the word "conquest" was by saying that the status quo does not require us to "control the affairs" of the Arabs in Yesha. Katz also said that he trusts Sharon not to give away the Jordan Valley and other areas of strategic importance.

The Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee debated the Road Map plan today, with the participation of Prime Minister Sharon. He reviewed Israel's 14 reservations on the plan - points that the Americans said they would "address" and which the Israelis accepted as integral parts of the plan.