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Sharon Promises Education Ministry to Shinui Party Founder

Prof. Uriel Reichman, the man credited with founding the extreme anti-religious Shinui Party, is joining Ariel Sharon's Kadima party - in exchange for the post of Education Minister.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 11/29/2005, 1:40 PM / Last Update: 11/29/2005, 12:56 PM

Rumors had been circulating since even before Sharon announced the formation of his party that Reichman [pictured], President of the Shinui Party National Council, might join him. Prof. Reichman currently presides over the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, chairs the Constitution for Israel Movement, is a member of the Human Rights Committee, and was Dean of the Law Faculty at Tel Aviv University.

In addition to being Education Minister in a Sharon-led government, Reichman also plans to occupy himself with the newly-popular topic of "changing the governmental system in Israel." Sharon appointed Justice Minister Tzippy Livny this week to head a committee on that matter.

Reichman wrote earlier this year that Shinui's flagship issue of fighting the religious establishment is not as central as it once was, and should not be recycled in the next election. "Other issues have gained prominence," he wrote, including "economic and social problems, the deterioration in morality and in education, corruption..."

Another development today in the rapidly-changing political scene was that Education Ministry Director-General Ronit Tirosh appears headed for Sharon's Kadima party as well. She worked closely with her boss, Education Minister Limor Livnat, over the past three years, and Livnat is unhappy at the turn of events. Livnat summoned Tirosh to an urgent meeting today, and is reported to be prepared to fire her if she does not deny that she is leaving the Likud.

Likud MK Gideon Saar said today that Kadima's new acquisitions prove that it is a hodge-podge party of various ideologies - but that it leans leftward. "We see that [new Kadima member] Chaim Ramon [formerly of Labor] even invited the Meretz party to join," Saar told Voice of Israel, "and now there's Itzik and [probably] Peres - this all shows that Sharon's party is really a left-wing party, and not just 'Likud B.'"

Saar said, "The public sees David Tal [from Amir Peretz's previous party], and Michael Nudelman [from the right-wing National Union party], and Yaakov Edry [formerly of the Likud], and Dalia Itzik [formerly of Labor] - and it looks just like one big refugee camp. It includes all sorts of people who used to be party chairmen or held other senior positions, but who arrived for personal reasons. Kadima's platform, as released yesterday, is exactly the same as Labor's in terms of diplomatic issues... Especially in terms of socio-economic issues, it's a real supermarket of opinions: David Tal is totally on the left, while Reichman is totally on the right."

Saar acknowledged that "Sharon is a very popular leader," but expressed optimism that as time goes on, "and as the picture clears up, the situation in the polls will change."