ישראל נאמן | Lectures, Articles, Tours: Israel | Mideast onTarget | Elliot Chodoff & Yisrael Ne'eman | Right Wing Fallout over Gaza 13.6.04

Right Wing Fallout over Gaza

13 June 2004

By Yisrael Ne'eman

Now that the dust has settled after the intensity of last week’s political drama, a few points must be sharpened. As regards PM Ariel Sharon’s Gaza Disengagement Plan, he “said what he meant and meant what he said” and most importantly what remains is, the execution of the plan, or “Just Do It”. The PM just pounded away, eliminating his opposition. He fired two ministers from the far right National Union faction and broke the disengagement process down into a two step, planning and execution operation, thereby gaining three more Likud votes in the cabinet (Netanyahu, Livnat and Shalom). The vote passed 14 – 7. Sharon, known as a “bulldozer”, plowed up yardage and first downs, forcing head-on collisions through continual draw plays, off tackles and quarterback sneaks. A linebacker blitz resulted in even more yardage, forcing him to throw a screen pass.

Two out of six members of the National Religious Party quit the coalition, but another four remain, leaving him with a minority government of 59 (out of 120 Knesset members). But two other MKs, Michael Nudelman and David Tal, although officially in the opposition, have announced they will support his coalition instead, and give him the necessary 61 majority. Furthermore, the remaining 59 include the Labor Party, from whom he can expect at least 16 votes of support (out of 21) until he brings them into the government. Even worse for the opposition, those who remain are split between Left, Right, ultra-orthodox and Arab lists. The government should survive at least another nine months until the evacuation of Jewish settlements in Gaza begins.

Sharon continues to pray round the clock for Yasir Arafat’s good health. As long as the Palestinian Authority (terrorist) leader lives, there can be no negotiated settlement and any attempts to circumvent him will fail. Sharon will press the evacuation to assure a fait accompli and demand the implementation of the four Bush promises of:

* no Palestinian refugee return

• the integration of large West Bank settlement blocs into Israel proper

• the recognition of the necessity of the security fence not necessarily along Israel’s 1967 borders

• the right to destroy terrorism wherever found – meaning in Palestinian areas.

The PM will keep pressing the center. According to the latest poll in the Hebrew daily Ma’ariv, he has a 45% approval rating, up from 33% four months ago, and the highest in over half a year. The same poll indicated that should he lead a centrist party, in theory he could pick up 76 seats.

The bad news for Sharon is the increasing radicalism on the Right. There are those who speak of him as a “terrorist” and “criminal” who should be “behind bars”. The IDF and General Security Services are keeping a watchful eye on right wing extremists whom they suspect of planning armed opposition to the evacuation. Last week, Rabin’s assassin, Yigal Amir, made it clear that he has no regrets, especially since the Oslo process proved itself a “catastrophe.” Many fear a 1995 repeat.

But Sharon will continue, undeterred by either political and/or physical threats.