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Likud to Help Vote Down PM´s Appointments

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon appears headed for a loss in the Knesset this afternoon in his proposal to appoint three disengagement-supporters to ministerial positions.

By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 11/7/2005, 8:47 PM / Last Update: 11/7/2005, 9:38 AM

Bolstered by the support of most of the anti-expulsion camp in the Likud, the opposition appears likely to succeed in rebuffing Sharon's ministerial appointments. Sharon has nominated MK Roni Bar-On as Minister of Industry and Trade, and Ze'ev Boim as Minister of Immigrant Aborption. In addition, for his third appointment, Sharon will be proposing Acting Finance Minister Ehud Olmert as permanent Finance Minister.

Several of the Likud "rebels" - they call themselves the "loyalists" - say they would gladly vote for Olmert as Finance Minister, if only Sharon would agree to separate that vote from the other two. Sharon refuses to do so - though he may do so tomorrow if he fails to pass the appointments today.

Sharon's advisor Eyal Arad told Army Radio, "Sharon does not plan to make any deals to get these appointments passed."

Behind the scenes, however, efforts are being made to come to a working understand between the Likud "rebels" and the government that would enable the Likud to rule for the coming year, until the national elections next November.

The arrangements include an internal "coordination" forum of party leaders that will include Sharon-allies Olmert and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, as well as leaders of the anti-expulsion camp Binyamin Netanyahu and Uzi Landau.

If the appointments are not passed, however, some analysts feel that Sharon will have no reason not to break up the government - and possibly form another party. "I have no intention of returning to the grave situation that I have faced over the past several months," Sharon said last night. "The Likud faction cannot continue to function the way it has until now."