The Unity Government:
Will Arik Sharon's Formula Save Israel?
by Gad Nahshon
Arik Sharon did it. He managed to form a 'national unity' coalition government. Did he invent the cement which would give this coalition of 25 ministers and 10 deputy-ministers, the dimension of existence? This is a quarter of the total 120 members of the Knesset. Sharon's majority: 78 MK's. This unity is the Israeli response to the 'war of attrition' that the PLO, the Palestinians and their allies such as the Hizbullah have launched against Israel. Following the Israeli press and the public opinion one can learn that even the Israeli left declared that Arafat's goal is to eliminate the state of Israel. They came to the same conclusion that leaders such as Yitzhak Shamir cried out for many years like a voice in the wilderness.
This new cabinet has young ministers, half of them are non-Ashkenazi leaders such as Gen. (Res.) Fuad Ben-Eliezer who was born in Iraq or like Eli Yishai who was born in Tunisia. Most of these ministers are well educated: seven ministers are lawyers. There are also many ministers who are Generals such as Gen. (Res.) Rechavam Zeevy ("Gandi"). Of course, Sharon was a general. One must note the fact or the precedent of three female ministers such as Limor Livnat. Another precedent: Salah Tariff, a Druze, is the first Arab minister in the political history of Israel!
Arik Sharon surprised the 'Likud' party by the nomination of Limor Livnat to be his minister of education and Dr. Uzi Landau as his police minister (Domestic Security). He certainly ignored the wish of the powerful leader, Ehud Olmert, the mayor of Jerusalem by the appointment of Shissa from Shas as a minister in charge of Jerusalem affairs. Perhaps Arik Sharon wants to contain Olmert, a strong-tough-smart potential candidate for the job of Prime Minister in the near future. One must understand the reality of the Israeli politics. There are Israelis who already doubt the ability of Sharon to function inside this coalition.
Israelis may go to general election pretty soon. The law of direct election was eliminated. When the external reality, the Palestinian war will be relaxed, the party leaders might challenge Sharon or try to blackmail him. People have a short memory. They will forget the unique victory of Sharon and will argue that he is too old to run the country. Sharon, also, left behind the traditional National Religious Party (Mafdal) and the Israeli left is still alive. Also, the popular leaders of the Labor party such as Abraham Burg and Haim Raman were left behind. They are not ministers in the cabinet. They tend to cooperate with the Left. Another question: will the Arab members of the Knesset will increase their militancy?
Sharon's government is a 'hawkish' one. But 'Right' or 'Left', 'Doves' or 'Hawks', the reality and the truth is that we need this kind of cabinet. Israel must confront the Palestinian War of Attrition, as soon as possible. Israel must stop terrorism. Israel must stop the establishment of a terrorist state in the West Bank. It is not clear if Israel's new foreign minister, Shimon Peres, believes in this goal. Will he try to push Arik Sharon to his side?
In this cabinet, Fual Ben-Eliezer is the Defense Minister (Labor), Silvan Shalom (Likud) Finance, Limor Livnat (Likud) Education, Meir Sheetrit (Likud) who was a candidate for Prime-Minister is the Justice Minister, Eli Yishai (Shas) Interior and Deputy Prime Minister. Dalia Itsik (Labor) Industry and Trade, Natan Sharansky (Yisrael B'Aliyah - The 'Russian' part) Housing and Construction, Asher Ohana (Shas) Religious Affairs and Avigdor Liberman (Israel Bietenu) National infrastructure.
Other ministers included: Reuvan Riblin, Efraim Sneh, Nissim Dahan, Rehavam Zeevi, Shlomo Benziri, Gen. (Res.) Matan Vilani, Danny Naveh, Tsipi Livni, Raanan Cohen, Shmuel Avital, Shalom Simhon, and Tsahi Hanegbi.
Some of these ministers are without portfolio. Some of these ministers have Deputy Ministers such as Nomi Blumenthal (Likud) or Daliah Rabin-Philosoff, the daughter of the late Itshaq Rabin (Labor). Arik Sharon left behind the distinguished leaders of the "Merkaz" (Center) Party: Roni Milo, Gen. (Res.) Amnon Shahak-Lipkin, Dan Meridor and Itshaq Mordecai. This party turned out to be a party of "Chiefs Without Indians." The party probably will be dismantled pretty soon.
There are many who would like to see the popular ex-Likud leader David Levy back in the government but Sharon did not find a place for this great leader. Levy made a mistake when he left the 'Likud' his 'home' and joined forces with the Labor party. But he will come back! The existence of Israel as a safe country is the first goal of its set of National priorities. Ehud Barak's government pushed Israel to the brink of an abyss. It was the outcome of pushing the pendulum to the far left, to the point of absurdity, into the way of national suicide.
Can Arik Sharon save Israel? Can he stop and destroy Arafat's 'War of Attrition?'
Return to News ArchivesBack to Top