The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Sunday, May 12, 2002  

Likud Party Rejects a Palestinian State

Believe it our not, there are certain contexts within which Prime Minister Ariel Sharon can be considered a moderate Israeli.

Early on May 13, Sharon's political base, the Likud Party, voted to reject -- outright -- the creation of a Palestinian state. Far from vindicating Sharon's foreign and military policies, the Likud vote was "a major defeat for Sharon," according to an Associated Press report carried on the New York Times web site today.

The party's central committee cannot remove Sharon from office, but it does provide evidence that Sharon is at best politically weak and at worst increasing isolated with his own Likud Party.

Why the sudden show-down vote by the Likud Central Committee on the issue of a Palestinian state, the ultimate creation of which we thought was accepted by all parties to the conflict (and their allies) decades ago? Well that's not good enough for former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who plans to challenge Sharon for the Likud party leadership and hopes eventually replace Sharon as prime minister.

"Only a handful of delegates voted against the Netanyahu-backed resolution, which read, 'No Palestinian state will be created west of the Jordan (River),' referring to the area including the West Bank, Israel and the Gaza Strip," according to the A.P. Although the Likud Party has consistently opposed a Palestinian state, particularly within the West Bank and Gaza, Sharon himself has conceded that under strict conditions, such a state would have to be accepted, and has even called the creation of a Palestinian state as "inevitable."

"Responding to the vote, Palestinian Cabinet minister Saeb Erekat said it 'unmasked many things. This just shows that the war being waged by Israel against the Palestinians is not a war against what they call terror, it's really their war to maintain the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza,''' the minister told A.P. Moreover, Erekat asserted that the vote was "a real slap in the face'' for the Bush administration, which supports some form of Palestinian state.

Why so many Israelis refuse to recognize the consequences of their actions, both political and military, is a question that continues to mystify us. We have always known that Netanyahu would be the worst choice for Israel Prime Minister...from the vantage point of the Israelis, the Palestinians, the rest of the Middle East region. The prospect of Netanyahu returning to the throne he created for himself years ago is truly frightening and nobody observing this development should be pleased by the latest news.

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