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Likud MK Uzi Landau, a contender for the party leadership, is considering a proposal to create a four-party political bloc made up of the Likud, the National Union, the National Religious Party and Yisrael Beiteinu, one of his advisers told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.
Preparatory meetings are being held to explore this idea should Prime Minister Ariel Sharon leave Likud, the adviser said. The idea was first proposed over the weekend by Yisrael Beiteinu head Avigdor Lieberman.
National Union head MK Benny Elon said he was meeting Monday with Landau to discuss the matter. Elon said he had also spoken about the idea with MK Binyamin Netanyahu, who is also vying for Likud party leadership. A Netanyahu adviser, however, told the Post that Netanyahu's sole focus right now was the Likud.
Elon said he was cautiously supporting Lieberman's vision of a combined bloc because he was waiting to first see if Sharon was really leaving the Likud. Elon also believes that there is a danger of voter apathy when the party becomes too large.
One idea being considered regarding how such a bloc would work would have each party keep its institutions, but with the bloc operating within the Knesset as a single faction. Each party could have its own platform, but the common denominators among them could be more flexible. One example of this could be attaching a required referendum to any proposals for more land withdrawals.
"It doesn't mean the Likud has to adopt all of our platforms," said Elon.
MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union), who moved to the Samaria settlement of Sa Nur to protest its evacuation this summer, said that he thought the move was a good idea.
"I think it's a great idea to combine with what will be left of the Likud, Lieberman's party Israel Beiteinu and the NRP for one right-wing party to block the possibility that (Labor party leader) Amir Peretz or Sharon will be able to create a government," Eldad said.
A lesson learned from the passage of disengagement is that small parties allow for a prime minister like Sharon to manipulate the political scene to his advantage.
The details of how the political bloc would work are still vague, said Eldad. But even though he was among the more vehement protesters of disengagement, he believes one compromise point would be an agreement that no territory would be relinquished without public approval through the use of a national referendum.
MK Gila Finkelstein (National Religious Party) said she would be interested in exploring the possibility of creating a voting bloc with the Likud if Sharon leaves the party.
"We are at the start of discussions on this subject," she said. More immediately pertinent, she said, was the question of an NRP and National Union merger under the banners of education and Jewish identity. It's important in this next election to create a new house for the "religious Zionist movement," she said.
Elon said that he has been pushing for the unity of the National Union and the National Religious Party. The National Union with Yisrael Beitenu has nine seats which in the next election he believes would grow to 14. With the NRP, he believes it could get upwards of 20 seats.
Still, Elon said he had also looked into a four-party bloc of Shas, the NRP and United Torah Judaism, the combined power of which would create a body of more than 40 seats. However, a Shas spokesman said the party was not looking at such a combination at this time.
In the next election, Elon said, "Our agenda will focus on the Jewish identity of the state of Israel. We believe that the land of Israel is not a political debate between hawks and doves about territory and real estate. It's a spiritual debate about what Jerusalem, Jericho and Hebron says to you."
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