In every way, possible, not only palate and language, Sharon is closer to Lapid and Peres than to the ultra-Orthodox.

When Sharon sits upstairs in his farmhouse, gazes on the pastureland and thinks about his difficult political life, he sees on the horizon the same government that Shimon Peres and Yossef Lapid see. Sharon, like Lapid and Peres, wants a Likud-Labor-Shinui government, which he considers a necessary evil if he wants, and want he does, to promote his disengagement plan.

Sharon listens to his son Omri, who just repeats the things he hears at home. Both father and son, they are much closer to the secular culture that Peres and Lapid represent than they are to the ultra-Orthodox despite the angry comments that Sharon made at the government meeting on the Shinui ministers’ initiative. Both father and son hate draft evasion (once, Sharon voted for the Tal Bill) and the extortion of funding for ultra-Orthodox educational institutions. Both of them would prefer to read a few chapters in a novel by Yoram Kenyuk than learn a few laws from the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch law code, without reference those that relate to food and dietary habits.

They both want it, but they can’t have it. Maybe they could, but they are fearful. A government consisting of the Likud, Labor, and Shinui might command a majority in the Knesset, because the Likud MKs would finally come around, but would enhance the ethnic and other fermentation within Sharon’s own party. Last week, at a meeting organized by Silvan Shalom, at Country Class, a flier titled, “Peres will divide the Likud” was distributed. It read, “A coalition including Labor is against the will of central committee members, against the will of the people. A government in which Shimon Peres, Haim Ramon Amram Mitzna and their colleagues have senior position will weaken the Likud and cause it to lose power in the next elections”.

Shimon Peres and Yossef Lapid met recently but the attempt of Labor and Shinui to force a secular coalition on Sharon cannot succeed. Likud ministers and senior members of the movement’s negotiation committee, including Chairman Yoram Ravad, say that a Likud-Labor-Shinui government is not an option. The attempts of Peres and Lapid to create an obstructive bloc would be likely to boomerang. Sharon would be left with a government that forgoes disengagement or call for new elections, which is another way of forgoing the entire plan.

Labor and Shinui are pushing Sharon into a corner. If neither is in the coalition, there is no disengagement. If the are both in, the disengagement is also in danger. They have no choice but to separate. The impression is that it will not be so difficult for them. The comments that the heads of both parties have made during the past few weeks show that it is primarily a coalition of thieves. Each one is worried that his partner will steal his long-awaited seat at the government table. Each one threatens the other with major losses in the next election if that happens.

At this moment, Labor has the advantage. It has not presented an ultimatum ruling out cooperation with any potential coalition partner. It is willing to sit in a government with ultra-Orthodox parties. It is reasonable to assume that Peres and his partners are more experienced and slyer than Yossef and Yair Lapid. No matter what, they will find a way in. The scenario of a government with the Likud, Labor and ultra-Orthodox, without Shinui, is becoming more logical not because it is the best but because it keeps Sharon out of trouble.


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