Photo: Dan Balilti
Optomistic: Netanyahu aides say Sharon made 'every mistake possible'
Photo: Dan Balilti

Likud Central Committee to meet Sunday

Sharon, Netanyahu camps both say they are confident of a win in Monday's vital Central Committee vote

The Likud Central Committee will meet at 17:00 on Sunday and take one the most difficult decisions in the party's history – whether or not to bring forward the Likud primaries. The outcome of the vote on the date of the primaries will directly impact the political future of the prime minister, and may determine whether he remains in the party he founded.


Both Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his rivals, Benjamin Netanyahu and Uzi Landau will speak at the Committee meeting, along with a number of ministers. The vote itself will be held on Monday, and its results will be released at 22:00.


Both the Sharon and Netanyahu camps have expressed optimism ahead of the vote, and both are aware that events in Gaza will influence how Committee members vote.


A source close to Sharon told Ynet, "At the end, it all depends on the number of Arabs who will die. Committee members don't want to look like suckers, and if they see the army working strongly, and handing the Palestinians their missiles back, they will vote from the heart, and vote for Sharon. They want to see Israel having deterrence power."


But a Sharon aide said that "no helicopter or plane will go up to bomb anything because of the Committee. The prime minister won't take decisions based the Central Committee."


The prime minister completed a round of phone calls on Friday with Committee members, but his staff continued to work to rally votes over Saturday, while the prime minister was busy with the security incidents in Gaza.


Netanyahu, for his part, did not rest, and appeared on Channel 2 on Saturday evening, where he launched a fierce attack on Sharon.


Sharon and Landau are both expected to meet with their followers on Sunday afternoon, for one last briefing before the Committee meeting and the fateful vote.


"At the end of the day, around 100 to 150 votes will separate the two camps, in our favor," a Sharon aide told Ynet. "There's no doubt that what happened in Gaza on the weekend won't add to the motivation of Committee members to help Sharon, but we are continuing to work until the last minute, calling for people to arrive and vote against the bringing forward of primaries. In the meantime, everyone is working, including Knesset Members and ministers, and I believe that that Sharon will, in the end, win this vote."


Netanyahu's aides have also expressed optimism and satisfaction with their campaign. One source in the Netanyahu camp said the feeling was "excellent, really good. We believe we will succeed and win. Sharon made all the mistakes one can make in the last week, and this has worked to our favor."


Netanyahu aides admit they felt less optimistic before the prime minister's trip to New York, and had previously believed that Sharon was able to reject the proposal to bring forward the primaries.


פרסום ראשון: 09.25.05, 09:19
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