Daily Israel Report

Stunning Victory for Gush Katif and Nationalist Camp

Channel One says it was a 62-38% landslide. The moderate voter turnout in the Likud cannot override the sweeping extent of the victory for Gush Katif and the Land of Israel.
First Publish: 5/3/2004, 5:34 AM / Last Update: 5/2/2004, 9:52 PM

A moderate voter turnout in the Likud - but the victory of the opponents of the unilateral evacuation/expulsion plan was sweeping. The Channel One television prediction, based on exit polls and other information, indicates that the Prime Minister's plan was defeated by a staggering 62%-38% vote.

Another prediction states that the margin is 58-59% against, 41-42%. Channel Two: 56%-44%.

The big winner in this election was Minister Uzi Landau, who was the most outspoken leader of the anti-retreat camp. He said tonight: "These are still just sample results, and even though the trend is clear, we still cannot be clear. But one thing is clear: we have succeeded in persuading, and the Likud has remained loyal to its principles. Despite all the obstacles, difficulties and pressures, the Likud people in the field acted against the entire mechanism, and we see that they are strong. I am proud to be part of these tens of thousands of people who have principles, and who have ideals, and who act according to the principles of clean politics." He said that the Likud is not headed for a split.

The big loser was Vice Prime Minister Ehud Olmert - who promoted the plan even more strongly than Sharon himself. Both Olmert and Omri Sharon, the Prime Minister's son, were booed and even attacked by Likud activists during the course of today.

MK Ehud Yatom of the Likud, an opponent of the plan, said that despite the wide victory, "Prime Minister Sharon must continue to lead the government." Yatom's party colleague MK Gila Gamliel said the same.

Minister Gideon Ezra, who supports the plan, "The question is what to do tomorrow. This is not a simple question." Ezra said that the residents of Gush Katif were the driving force behind the plan's defeat.

Justice Minister Tommy Lapid (Shinui) was critical of the results, saying that the Likud is becoming an "extremist right-wing" party and is losing the public, and that a a great gap is opening in the country.

Binyamin Ben-Eliezer of the Labor Party said he was surprised by the extent of the margin of victory.

Commentator Chanan Crystal said that Sharon may take out his anger on Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who did not actively support the plan.

Moshe Feiglin, who heads the ‘Jewish Leadership’ faction within the Likud had announced that, “upon hearing of a victory, let everyone make their way as close as possible to the Temple Mount – the heart of the Jewish nation – to offer thanks to God for bringing us to such a day.” A crowd is reportedly forming at the Western Wall plaza, in preparation for a massive ‘Prayer of Thanksgiving.’