Shalom blasts Netanyahu for failure

Says that Likud, if invited, should enter coalition negotiations with Kadima.

shalom pensive 298.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
shalom pensive 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Senior Likud MK Silvan Shalom lashed out at Party Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu on Friday, holding him responsible for the movement's failure in last week's elections. Shalom also accused Netanyahu of attacking him personally. After the March 28 elections, Likud dropped from the 40 mandates it held since 2003 to an embarrassing 12. Their constituency was assessed to have gone either to the Right, including Israel Beiteinu and National Union-National Religious Party, or to Kadima, which was formed primarily of MKs who abandoned Likud. In a Channel 2 interview, Shalom accused Netanyahu of being responsible for the dispersion of Likud votes to the other parties. "Netanyahu is the biggest serial party-former in the world," he said, saying that it was because of the current Likud chairman that parties as diverse as Kadima, Israel Beiteinu, National Union, David Levy's Gesher, the Gil Pensioners' Party, and the Center Party that ran in the 1999 elections were formed. Shalom expressed his opinion that anyone who caused people to abandon the party during the election campaign would not be able to lure them back during the reconstruction process. After the elections, there were rumors circulating on whether Netanyahu would leave the Likud leadership, or if he should be deposed. In such cases, Shalom, as number two in the party, would have been the leading candidate for leadership of the movement. Shalom stated that the Likud should be willing to enter coalition negotiation talks with Kadima. He criticized his own party for what he saw as an extremely intense hatred towards Kadima and its chairman, Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. "If we are invited to negotiations, will we be like the National Union and say 'No'?" he asked emphatically. The veteran MK also complained about an attack allegedly launched against him and his family by Netanyahu and his associates. Shalom, as the finance minister who preceded Netanyahu, was particularly offended by part of the election campaign that claimed that when Netanyahu reached the Finance Ministry, he found the economy to be on the verge of collapse. "If you repeat a lie enough times," Shalom complained, "eventually the public will believe it." Both Shalom and his wife, Judy Nir-Mozes Shalom, were irked by statements reportedly made by Netanyahu's associates, accusing Judy, together with her friend Orna Datz, of encouraging prospective voters to vote for the Pensioners' Party. In her defense, Mrs. Shalom said that when people asked her for which party to vote, she suggested Gil only once she was convinced that they would not vote Likud, hoping that their vote would not harm her husband's party.