Photo: AP
Sharon meets with supporters
Photo: AP
Photo: Alex Kolomoisky
Olmert: Next finance minister?
Photo: Alex Kolomoisky

Sharon begins talks with supporters

Prime minister meets with Likud ministers who supported him during central committee vote;Netanyahu supporters call for new opposition leader to face Sharon

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon began a round of talks in Tel Aviv Tuesday with Likud ministers who supported him during the Central Committee vote for early primaries, including Finance Minister Ehud Olmert, Justice Minister Tzipi Linvi, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, Tourism Minister Abraham Hirchson.


Sharon is also set to meet with the heads of the opposition parties, including opposition chairman MK Yosef Lapid (Shinui).


Sharon's advisors have said that the prime minister has requested to send a message of "business as usual."


"We are not planning to launch a campaign of mass killings," they said, calming certain ministers who feared Sharon may take revenge on those who attempted to oust him from Likud leadership.


Sharon will also telephone Central Committee members who assisted him prior to the vote.


Associates close to Sharon estimate that the prime minister will hold a large Likud convention in the coming weeks.


In addition, the traditional New Year's toast will be held this year a little after Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year), and is scheduled for sometime near Succot. Meanwhile, Sharon will attempt to rally around him party members, in a bid to arrive at the event as a winner.


Sharon's associates have expressed their satisfaction with the results received following the Central Committee vote.


"If the vote had been scheduled for today, the gap would have been larger," one associate said jokingly.


Next test: State budget


One day after his victory, Sharon stands before a number of obstacles, mainly due to his an unstable coalition.


Firstly, Sharon must approve the appointment of his close associate Olmert, as permanent finance minister.


Sharon's supporters have considered bringing the decision to a vote during the Knesset recess, in a bid to take advantage of the prime minister's victory.


Sharon's next move is to ensure the approval of the state budget. However, it appears the labor party will demand numerous concessions from Sharon.


Without these concessions, Labor ministers will have a hard time explaining their decision to remain in the government after pullout.


The budget, which will be approved near the time scheduled for Labor party primaries, is set to pose a problem for Sharon due to the opinions of certain Labor ministers.


Bibi supporters take off their gloves


Sharon will also ask to add new ministers to the government. Should his supporters be chosen once again to the join the government, it may provoke an internal opposition.


However, this time objection would not only include the 13 rebels. Benjamin Netanyahu, Limor Livnat, Yisrael Katz, Yuval Steinitz, Gideon Sa'ar, and Gila Gamliel would also join the opposition, resulting in more than half of Sharon's Likud faction.


Should the prime minister only reward his close associates, Sharon would be faced with an internal opposition.


Meanwhile, just one day after Netanyahu's defeat and his supporters have already taken off their gloves.


One senior MK and Likud rebel told Ynet earlier that "you cannot win with Bibi."


"The level of hostility towards him is incomprehensible. Members must regain their composure and choose a leader worthy of facing. If Bibi remains, Sharon will control the Likud forever."


- Ilan Marciano contributed to the report


פרסום ראשון: 09.27.05, 18:05
 new comment
This will delete your current comment