Daily Israel Report

PM´s Aides: If Ministers Aren´t Approved, Gov´t Will Fall

Ariel Sharon says he wants to appoint two of his disengagement-allies to ministerial positions, but MKs of his own party, as well as others, plan to vote against. The vote is scheduled for Monday.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 10/30/2005, 1:55 PM / Last Update: 10/30/2005, 11:20 AM

Sharon announced this morning at the Cabinet meeting that he intends to appoint two Likud MKs to the Cabinet: MK Roni Bar-On as Minister of Industry and Trade, and MK Ze'ev Boim as Ministry of Absorption. Both Bar-On and Boim loyally supported Sharon in his plans to abandon Gush Katif and northern Shomron, and the appointments are widely viewed as Sharon's way of rewarding them.

The Cabinet approved the appointments in a 12-0 vote; the Labor Party ministers refused to participate in the vote.

MK Binyamin Netanyahu says he will vote against his party leader's proposed appointments, and a majority in the Knesset is in fact not assured. Others in the Likud's anti-disengagement camp have also said they will vote against.

Announcing his intention last night to vote against the appointments, Netanyahu said, "This is a clear act of buying votes," he said, "and the continuation of political corruption in Israel. Knesset Members must vote on fateful issues [such as the expulsion] according to their conscience and the mandate they received from their party, and not according to favors or threats they receive from the Prime Minister."

The Prime Minister's camp responded in kind, calling Netanyahu a divisive force in the party, and saying that his actions will lead to a split in the Likud. They had harsh words for the anti-disengagement Likud MKs as well, saying, "They are acting illogically. They only care about themselves and the 1,400 [Likud] Central Committee members who [agree with them]."

Sharon and his camp have hinted that a defeat will lead to new elections. On Thursday, the Prime Minister told a meeting of Likud ministers that if the appointments are not passed, "perhaps the Likud won't be able to lead." A source close to him was quoted as saying, "The Prime Minister is sick of the way the Likud Knesset faction is acting. This time he won't give in. If the appointments are defeated, he'll find his way to the President [to submit his resignation] very quickly."

Among the Likud MKs who plan to vote against Sharon's appointments are Uzi Landau, Moshe Kachlon, Michael Ratzon, Yuli Edelstein, David Levy, Ehud Yatom and Ayoub Kara.

Sharon invited MK Yatom [pictured above] and others - not including Netanyahu - to conciliatory meetings late last week.

Another appointment on the agenda is that of Ehud Olmert to Finance Minister. He was named Acting Finance Minister nearly three months ago when Netanyahu resigned the post in protest of the expulsion. Olmert's appointment has more support in the Knesset, and would probably be easily approved if it proposed on its own. The Prime Minister's aides are attempting to convince him to separate Olmert's nomination from the others, but Sharon refuses to do so.

The three appointments are to be brought before the Knesset tomorrow (Monday).