Likud divided over Palestinian state

Stiff opposition expected in Sunday's ideological bureau to Naveh's proposal.

dani naveh 298 AJ (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
dani naveh 298 AJ
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Likud MK Dan Naveh is expected to face stiff opposition to his proposal for the Likud to endorse the formation of a Palestinian state when he convenes the leadership of the Likud's ideological bureau on Sunday at the party's Tel Aviv headquarters. Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya Prof. Uzi Arad will attend the meeting. Other experts on diplomatic and security issues will be invited to future meetings, including Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs head Dore Gold and former IDF chief of General Staff Moshe Ya'alon. Naveh, who chairs the bureau, believes that the move is necessary to attract voters who left the Likud for Kadima in the last election and to rebuild the Likud as a center-right party. He hopes that even Likud MKs who left the party for Kadima would return if the proposal passes. "The Likud has to face the reality whether we like it or not," Naveh said. The proposal also includes a clause banning the Likud from merging with other parties on the Right. But the party's hawks have said that it made no sense for the Likud to make such decisions at a time when the IDF is in the midst of fighting Palestinian terror. Likud MK Yisrael Katz, who heads the Likud's governing secretariat, is expected to face off against Naveh and try to block the proposal from passing. He will convene the secretariat later in the month to pass his proposal to seek a merger with Israel Beiteinu. Meanwhile, efforts began this week to try to delay the Labor Party's leadership race. Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon announced on Thursday that he would on July 20 convene the party's house committee, which he chairs, to approve his proposal to postpone the election to the spring of 2008. According to Labor's current bylaws, when a Labor chairman loses a general election a party leadership primary is automatically held within the next 14 months, which would mean a Labor election must be held by May 2007. Simhon wants the bylaws changed so that the primary would instead be held 14 months before the next general election. "Holding the primary so soon would destabilize the party, the government and the country unnecessarily," Simhon said. Simhon received approval for his idea from several expected Labor leadership candidates, including incumbent Amir Peretz, Science and Technology Minister Ophir Paz-Pines and MKs Matan Vilna'i and Ami Ayalon. The only leadership candidate expected to oppose the move is former prime minister Ehud Barak. Such a move would give a big boost to Peretz, whose staying power as Labor chairman is considered questionable. It could also extend the tenure of the coalition because Peretz would want to campaign in the primary from the lofty perch of the Defense Ministry. In a further attempt to lengthen the tenure of the government, efforts to expand the coalition by adding United Torah Judaism are expected to continue next week. Coalition chairman Avigdor Yitzhaki urged Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to restart the talks and reportedly even threatened to quit his post if he did not do so. Olmert met on Thursday with UTJ MKs Moshe Gafni and Ya'acov Litzman, as well as Israel Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman, and briefed them about the security situation. Olmert asked the MKs not to reveal information from the meetings to the press.