Monday, August 08, 2005

DEBKAfile: Analysis of Netanyahu Resignation

DEBKAfile, Political Analysis, Espionage, Terrorism Security

A bad knock for the Sharon government

August 7, 2005, 5:12 PM (GMT+02:00)

DEBKAfile’s political analysts see finance minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s abrupt decision to quit Sunday, August 7 - over the evacuation of the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank beginning in ten days - as negatively impacting prime minister Sharon in government and Likud party.

Netanyahu, a former prime minister, admitted his decision would not stop the evacuations getting started. At the same time, their continuity is less certain.

Sharon can count on a solid majority in the government and Knesset – 17 ministers approved the evacuations of Morag, Netzarim and Kfar Darom on Sunday to against a minority of five. But that majority is composed mainly of Likud’s natural opposition parties together with the religious and nationalist groups he dispensed with for the sake of pushing through his disengagement plan.

Sharon may have lost his own Likud for good. A large segment broke away when he failed to abide by the majority consensus to drop the disengagement plan. Netanyahu’s defection from the government will strengthen the anti-Sharon opposition, especially if he is joined by any of the four Likud ministers who voted against the first phase of the Gaza evacuations.

The prime minister’s hold on government may prove more fragile than he thinks. There are already pressures to bring the date for an early election forward to the early months of 2006. Sharon’s bid for a third term as prime minister will no doubt be weakened by the final split in Likud and the finance minister’s open challenge to his leadership in party and country. This contest will come to the fore in the Likud primaries ahead of parliamentary elections.

The army and police need a continuous pull-out process in order to control the operation and keep it smooth. This is by no means certain any longer. The anti-disengagement movement and the future evacuees have been buoyed up by the finance minister’s withdrawal from Sharon’s “disengagement government.” They regard him as having put into words their sense of dread at the prospect of an “Islamist terrorist base” taking over in the Gaza Strip, and will invest greater energy in their campaign of obstruction. The evacuation forces may therefore have to contend with more resistance then they bargained for.

The Palestinians too will be weighing the implications of the Netanyahu resignation. An on-again, off-again pull-out will be an open invitation to the terrorists to revive their attacks.


Post a Comment

<< Home