rabin special 298.
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With just three days left before Monday's fateful Knesset vote on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's cabinet appointments, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said that he would not try to force Sharon to split the vote on the ministers and prevent his government from falling.
Knesset legal advisers indicated on Thursday that Rivlin had a right to demand that Sharon separate the vote on appointing acting finance minister Ehud Olmert in a permanent capacity from the appointments of Roni Bar-On and Ze'ev Boim. The Olmert vote is key because Attorney-General Menachem Mazuz has ruled that if Olmert is not appointed by Wednesday, the position will not be able to be filled under the current government.
"I am not the one toppling the government," Rivlin said. "The government is taking a big risk by bringing the appointments in one bloc, but common sense says that there is no reason to confront the government and interfere. Sharon can decide his ministers. Even Caligula appointed his horse as a senator, but he many have been wiser than Sharon."
Rivlin said that he did not believe that Sharon wanted to use the appointments as an excuse to initiate early elections. He said he believed that Sharon would cave in and allow the votes on the appointments to be separated.
Sharon met on Thursday with the two self-appointed mediators in the appointments crisis, MKs Gideon Saar and Michael Eitan. Sa'ar and Eitan presented Sharon with several possible solutions to the crisis. According to one solution, proposed by rebel MK Ayoub Kara, the appointments would first come to a secret ballot vote in the Likud faction and the rebels would agree to abide by the vote.
Eitan said that there was still a lot of work left to be done, even after meeting this week with Sharon, former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and Likud rebel MKs Uzi Landau, Michael Ratzon, Nomi Blumenthal, Ayoub Kara and David Levy. He said he hoped to not only solve the crisis but also to reach a deal that could keep the Likud unified.
"We are looking for a formula that will enable the Likud to act like a ruling party and lead the country for years to come," Eitan told reporters after the meeting. "We are not here for a solution that will last a day. We want to bring success to the Likud."
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