An internal Likud panel ruled that Gilad Sharon, the son of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, cannot contend for a spot on the party slate for the Knesset.
Sharon had appealed an earlier keeping him off the list due to the fact that he was a registered Likud member for under the mandatory three year period. Sharon contended that the rule was rarely enforced and accused Prime Minister Netanyahu of purposely preventing him from throwing his hat in the ring as revenge for Netanyahu's adversarial relationship with his father.
During the hearing, Sharon's attorney pointed to the addition of numerous other politicians to the Likud's slate who had not been in the party for the required three years, including Absorption Minister Yoav Galant.
The panel's decision was widely praised by Likud activists, who said that it would be inappropriate for him to join the party due to his self-professed role as the inspiration behind Ariel Sharon's decision to withdraw 9,000 Jews from Gaza in 2005.
"I welcome the decision of the court to prevent the architect of the disengagement, who expelled Jews from their homes and caused the destruction of the Likud, to destroy the Likud for the second time," said Dr. Shlomo Kara'i, a Likud activist who had worked to disqualify Sharon.
Prior to the hearing, dozens of influential members of the Likud's Central Committee sent a petition urging the court not to allow "the architect of the Disengagement" to return to the party. "His father’s departure from the Likud, following Gilad’s advice, crashed the Likud to an unprecedented low... which took time to repair," read the missive.
"There are candidates who are good and more worthy that represent the national camp and the Likud Party in the Negev, than Sharon the son."
Gilad Sharon is said to be extremely unpopular within the Likud for his role in the Gaza Disengagement. As part of the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza, Israel unilaterally withdrew from the Strip and parts of northern Samaria, demolishing 25 Israeli towns and removing Israel's security forces from that region.
The move was spearheaded by then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and involved the eviction of thousands of Israelis from 21 towns in Gaza and 4 in Samaria. In Gilad Sharon's 2011 biography of his father titled 'Sharon: The Life of a Leader', Gilad contended that he had convinced his father to uproot the thriving, decades-old communities.
Last February, Sharon defended the move and stated that he has no regrets despite the numerous military operations and thousands of rockets fired at Israeli civilian targets following the Disengagement. Sharon said that the Disengagement "clearly saved lives" in the long run and prevented Israel from having to "bring out piles of bodies."
"There are many people who are angry, but at least they're alive," Sharon added. "Gaza is a death trap and I think it's good that we're not there." This assessment did not take into account the IDF soldiers killed in operations following the Disengagement."