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Dov Shilansky: Sharon?s Views are Close to Those of Yossi Sarid

Former Knesset Speaker Dov Shilanksy, who fought alongside Menahem Begin during Israel's Independence War, explains that Ariel Sharon's views are much closer to those of Meretz MK Yossi Sarid.
By Scott Shiloh
First Publish: 11/23/2005, 1:06 PM / Last Update: 11/22/2005, 8:39 PM

Dov Shilanksy, holocaust survivor and one the “fighting family,” the small cadre of fighters who made up the “Etzel” (Irgun), the underground, nationalistic group commanded by Menachem Begin during Israel’s War of Independence, is no newcomer to the Likud.

Shilanksy was in the Likud’s forerunner, the Herut party, well before Ariel Sharon got the idea of merging Herut with a number of small parties at the liberal center. That famous merger by Sharon turned into the Likud. Herut, though, with Begin at the head, still made up the party’s ideological core.

Before forming the Likud, however, Sharon had another brilliant idea: form a party with MK Yossi Sarid, whose political views put him at the far left of the spectrum.

According to Dov Shilanksy, Sharon has come full circle: “From our perspective, Sharon did the right thing,” by leaving the Likud. “Ideologically, he’s closer to Yossi Sarid than to the party I belong to [the Likud].” MK Sarid is a member of the Meretz-Yahad party that favors returning all of Judea and Samaria, as well as the Old City of Jerusalem, to Arab rule.

Shilansky says that in the last election, Sharon “stole” the votes of Likud voters. Shortly after the election, Sharon began espousing policies, such as the establishment of a Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, which ran against the party’s election platform.

Sharon’s plan to disengage or withdraw from Gaza and northern Samaria, destroying in the process 25 Jewish communities, was also diametrically opposed to the party’s platform. In fact, the idea for the withdrawal was put forward by Sharon’s opponent in the 2000 election campaign, MK Amram Mitzna of the Labor party.

“Now he’s gone back to where he belongs, with us remaining where we belong, faithful to our ideology,” Shilansky said.

Shilanksy, who served in the 1980’s as Chairman of the Knesset, has stayed faithful to the Likud’s core values of building Jewish communities throughout the land of Israel. Shilansky was one of the key speakers at the final rally against the disengagement in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square last August.

Shilansky said he is not worried about early polls that show Ariel Sharon’s new party attaining more votes than the Likud. He said Likud the party has endured unfavorable polls before, but despite this, the Likud must remain faithful to its ideology until it ultimately prevails.

Quoting Yitzhak Shamir, who as head of the Likud party served as Israel’s prime minister for most of the period from 1983-1992, Shilanksy holds that there is no need to change Likud ideology: “The Arabs are the same Arabs, and the sea is the same sea.”

“If we remain completely faithful in the justness of our ways,” he said, “our victory will be guaranteed.”