To the outside observer, the internal schism in Israel’s ruling Likud political party might seem to be quite confusing.
After all, the three pretenders for party leadership – current Israeli Prime Miinister Ariel Sharon, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and former Israeli Minister of Public Security, Uzi Landau, are all well known as uncompromising hard liners in the fight against Palestinian terrorism.
All three have served in Likud governments which have ceded territory of the land of Israel in exchange for peace accords with Israel’s Arab neighbors.
So where is the schism?
Over the matter of the unilateral handover of land to the PLO, without any agreement, accord or understanding.
During the last Israeli general election, in February, 2003, the only Israeli political parties to advocate such a position of unilateral land transfer were the Israel Communist Party and the Israeli Arab political parties.
Unlike other Israeli left wing parties and entities such as Labor, Meretz and Peace Now, all of whom advocate the concept of territories for peace, the position of the Israeli Communist Party and the three Israeli Arab political parties now represented in Israel’s Knesset Parliament was more doctrinaire… Give them land; It is theirs; Ask for nothing.
Now, to the surprise of almost every pundit on the Israeli political spectrum, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon led his Likud party to outflank the Israeli Zionist left and instead urged Likud to adopt the â unilateral withdrawal platform of the Israeli Communist Party and the Israeli Arabs.
And not only did Sharon speak about adopting their platform: Sharon implemented their platform with a lightening sweep expulsion of all 21 of the economically viable Jewish communities from the Katif District of Gaza, along with the total eviction of four Jewish communities in Northern Samaria, in the span of less than one month, between August 15th, 2005 and September 12th, 2005.
And last night, Sharon staved aff an an initiative in the 3,000 member Likud central committee to advance the Likud primary election, which might have cost him his job, at least for another six months, when the next Likud primary was >originally scheduled to take place
All this occurred while Palestinian cannons from Gaza were ablaze, attacking Israeli towns and villages throughout southern Israel.
What incentive could Sharon offer his hard line Likud constituency? One need look no farther than Israel’s leading economic newspaper, Globes, whose headlines have been reminding Israeli business people that business in the short tenm with the Palestinian Authority is good business. Israel exports during the year 2004 to the Palestinian Authority surpassed two billion dollars, while less than 400 million dollars worth of goods were imported from the P.A.
And the man whom Sharon appointed to administer the expulsion of the Jewish communities from Gaza, General Eival Giladi, has also been named to run the Portland Foundation, the British owned development foundation which will now invest more than half a billion dollars into the Palestinian Gaza economy.
The main investor in that Portland Foundation is British billionaire Sir Ronald Cohen, a close advisor to the chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Gordon Brown. On the day of the Likud primany. Brown announced that he would come to Gaza to oversee this mass investment, much of will flow back into Israel, while benefiting Israeli contractors who will continue to work with Palestinian laborers for Israeli industries.
How many of these contractors happen to be members of the Likud Central Committee may have had a bearing on last night’s vote which kept Sharon in power.
These are times when short term business interests override concerns for national security.