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      Sharon Criticizes Netanyahu for "Undermining" Him

      In his closing remarks at the Caesaria Economic Conference Thursday night, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon leveled criticism at Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, although he did not name him, per se.
      First Publish: 7/1/2005, 3:50 PM / Last Update: 7/1/2005, 1:47 PM

      Mr. Sharon attacked those who he said are undermining him and who are objecting to his policy efforts out of "personal political motivations." Prime Minister Sharon also responded to criticism voiced by Minister Netanyahu that monies allocated towards implementing the Disengagement Plan could have been used for social welfare programs. Sharon noted that the funds for the Disengagement were a one-time allocation and not part of the annual budget figures, hence they should have no impact on the social welfare allocations.

      The prime minister told the gathering that he is determined to carry out the Disengagement Plan in seven weeks' time, regardless of any opposition. Prime Minister Sharon explained that the implementation of the plan to evacuate Jews from Gush Katif and northern Samaria will allow the resumption of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

      A bill sponsored by National Religious Party MK Zevulun Orlev seeking to postpone the implementation of the Disengagement Plan by a year will be voted upon in Knesset on Wednesday of next week. MK Orlev is hoping Finance Minister Netanyahu will support the bill, realizing such a bold move by a senior minister may lead to a breakdown of the cabinet, or at the very least, send shockwaves through the Prime Minister's Office. At present, it appears most unlikely that the bill will muster a majority vote, but it will permit cabinet ministers who continue to express their opposition for the plan to vote their conscience and improve their standing among anti-Disengagement voters.