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Rivlin Sees Gov´t Collapse Ahead

Knesset Speaker Rivlin, a long-time friend and oft-time political ally of Ariel Sharon, predicts that the government's days are numbered. MK Benny Elon says Rivlin knows what he's talking about.
First Publish: 6/15/2005, 8:10 AM / Last Update: 6/14/2005, 6:35 PM

"Sharon has support on only one subject," Rivlin told NRG-Maariv last night, "and that is the disengagement. In any normal Knesset, we wouldn't be asking whether the Knesset would be dissolved - but rather when it will happen."

"The only alternative is to hold early elections," Rivlin said. "The government is unable to pass anything. Anyone who doesn't get what he wants, even if he is a member of the coalition, goes and votes against the government."

Sharon himself agrees that the situation is problematic. After yesterday's Knesset session, the Prime Minister met with opposition leader Tommy Lapid to discuss yesterday's results. Sharon and his government lost in four consecutive votes yesterday - three no-confidence motions and one on Sharon's speech on government corruption.

Lapid, who is widely assumed to be overly anxious to return to the coalition, told Sharon that yesterday's votes are a "sign that the regime is losing its grip, precisely when a strong regime is needed."

Rivlin's remarks were encouraging to opponents of the expulsion plan, but it is still not clear how exactly the government could fall. Only 17 Knesset days remain before the summer recess, and no-confidence motions are not brought during Knesset breaks.

MK Benny Elon (National Union) told Arutz-7, "Rivlin's parliamentary experience, plus his wisdom and his personal knowledge of the people involved, especially Sharon, give great weight to his remarks. Sharon knows with certainty that immediately after the uprooting from Gaza and northern Shomron, MKs on both the left and right are planning to topple him. It could be that we can't stop the bull from running into the wall - but the bull himself might understand that if he continues his plan, he will [be toppled and then] remain only with a record of uprooting and destruction that will erase the accomplishment of his past. Under such circumstances, early elections before the uprooting are a very reasonable scenario - for his sake as well."

Opposition leader Lapid and his Shinui Party were dead-set against a unilateral withdrawal from Gaza during the last election campaign, but since then have changed their tune. Lapid has now gone even further, saying that Sharon must not rest on his disengagement "laurels," but must rather delineate his next move - i.e., his next withdrawal. "And don't tell us that the Palestinians will have to do this or that," Lapid yelled out yesterday in the Knesset. "The question is what this government plans to do."

Lapid also asked this question of Sharon during their meeting last night, and reported afterwards that Sharon said that the next move must be for the PA to disarm all terrorists.

Labor Party leader Shimon Peres said that Rivlin's remarks on early elections are rooted only in his desire to prevent the withdrawal from Gaza.