Daily Israel Report

NRP to Quit Coalition Before PM Sharon Brings Plan to U.S.

National Religious Party leaders met today with former Chief Rabbis Avraham Shapira and Mordechai Eliyahu, deciding on party strategy in light of Sharon's unilateral withdrawal offer.
First Publish: 2/9/2004, 2:56 PM / Last Update: 2/9/2004, 11:35 AM

National Religious Party leaders met today with former Chief Rabbis Avraham Shapira and Mordechai Eliyahu, deciding on party strategy in light of Sharon's unilateral withdrawal offer. The two rabbis, considered the spiritual leaders of the national-religious community, advised the NRP leadership to quit the coalition now, in order to head off Prime Minister Sharon from leaving for Washington and presenting his expulsion plan. The NRP leaders have reportedly accepted the recommendation.

Rabbis Shapira and Eliyahu are expected to meet with the heads of the National Union Party later this week. At least one MK, however - Dr. Aryeh Eldad - has already decided that he's out of the government. Eldad announced that he plans to vote with the opposition today, in favor of a motion of no-confidence in the government. The other MKs of the National Union will apparently suffice with absenting themselves from the vote, while the NRP has not yet decided how it will act. At least two Likud Party MKs - Gilad Erdan and Ayoub Kara - are expected not to participate in today's vote, in protest of the proposed unilateral retreat and expulsion.

Minister Natan Sharansky (Likud) expressed strong opposition to Sharon's unilateral retreat plan this morning. "A unilateral move on this scale is not logical," he told Arutz-7. "I simply don't see what we gain, except for encouragement for more terrorism. The area from which we retreat will turn into a center of terrorism against us. International pressure upon us will not decrease, and no one in the world will agree to an Israeli annexation of even one square meter of Judea and Samaria... It is not healthy or correct to advance matters among United States officials before doing so in the government."