Israel wants and needs a strong secular government that can implement the disengagement plan.

The government is falling apart and the prime minister is silent. Since the threat on the Likud party – that if its members will not vote for the goverment during the votes of no-confidence, there will be no choice but elections – his tongue has disappeared.

We have no choice but to accept what we hear from the prime minister’s officials or those close to him. We do not know if they are telling us from the horse’s mouth or at least with his agreement. Either way, if these reports are true, then we have reason to be concerned. They are reporting that Prime Minister Sharon is not moved. He is not moved by Sylvan Shalom’s impressive gathering and neither by the human chain formed by 130,000 people from Nissanit to Jerusalem. It seems that the prime minister is only moved by one thing – the words of George Bush.

What is happening to Prime Minister Sharon? Is his arrogance taking over his sensibility? The warning signs are written on the walls: Sharon does not have a majority in the government to implement the disengagement plan. At the crucial moment when the government will have to vote on the evacuation from Gaza, most of the MKs will vote against the move. Sharon knows this – without Labor’s support he does not have a majority in the Knesset. Without Labor’s support, Sharon does not have a majority in the government to pass the 2005 state budget.

The Cabinet also knows – this struggling government that battles no-confidence votes every Monday. Its political weight and value is disappearing in the eyes of the public. It is only surviving because its opponents are divided. The public views it as a “limping duck”. It is bad for the economy. It is bad for the nation. It is bad for the future. The government cannot decide on large moves and implement them.

Apathy, impartiality and numbing of senses are the death sentence for democracy. The prime minister needs to be aware of the nation’s will, as is indicated in the polls. The nation wants a secular government, partnered with the Likud, Labor and Shinui. If Sharon is not able to achieve a majority in the Knesset for support of this type of government – because most Likud MKs do not want such a coalition- he has no choice but to call for new elections. Israel needs a strong stable government that is capable of implementing the disengagement plan. The current government, torn and broken, is trying with all its might to stay in power. Even if it manages to survive another one or two no-confidence vote, this is not a government that the nation can look up to.

One of David Ben-Gurion’s famous sayings was: “I don’t know what the nation wants. I know what the nation needs”. In the country’s current situation, there is a direct link to what the government wants and what the government needs. Sharon, an avid Ben-Gurion fan, with similar political and security ideas as the nation’s founder, can now follow his mentor’s path and prove that he can, despite all the difficulties, create a link between what the nation wants and what the nation needs.

Dov Goldstein has been writing for Maariv since 1954 and has written biographies on Ezer Weizman, Yitzhak Rabin, Raphael Eitan, Teddy Kolleck and Shmuel Tamir.


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