Skip to comments.Ariel Sharon fires two cabinet ministers, Gaza withdraw plan to be approved on Sunday
Posted on 06/04/2004 10:18:55 AM PDT by ChicagoHebrew
JPost.com » News » Security-Diplomacy » PM fires Elon and Lieberman
Jun. 1, 2004 23:47 | Updated Jun. 4, 2004 16:19 PM fires Elon and Lieberman By TOVAH LAZAROFF
Cabinet secretary Yisrael Maimon spoke Friday morning with all Israeli Cabinet ministers, informing them of prime minister Ariel Sharon's decision to dismiss Transportation Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Tourism Minister Benny Elon.
Once all the ministers were informed, as is demanded by Israeli law, messengers were sent to Elon and Lieberman's homes with their letters of dismissal. "According to the protocols of the law I have decided to relieve you of your post, as is my right as prime minister," the terse letters said. Lieberman received his dismissal letter while working out at a gym near Jerusalem. Elon was not at home a the time the messenger arrived, and has not yet received his notice.
Elon told Israel Radio he would do all he could to avoid receiving it. He claimed he would not accept a phone notification, since he could not be certain it was in fact the Prime Minister speaking to him and not "Yatzpan" (a popular comedian famous for his impersonations of Israeli politicians).
"I will do all I can to prevent this irresponsible act and fight against the disengagement," Elon said. I will do everything I can to make sure that there won't be a majority in the Cabinet vote on Sunday.
Elon said he spoke with the Prime Minister on the phone. "He called me, and I told him that by law he cannot fire me over the phone. I got a call on my cellular phone, and the voice was similar to that of Arik Sharon. But on the assumption that it was not Yatzpan, I told him everything that was needed to be said about his behavior. I told him that I can't be sure if it really is the prime minister or if it is Yatzpan on the other end of the line. But just in case you're not Yatzpan, I have to tell you that I didn't expect you to end your glorious career by imposing an artificial majority. I think we have arrived at a somewhat demeaning situation," Elon said.
MK Ahmed Tibi (Hadash Ta'al) suggested Sharon issue an arrest warrant against Elon. He said Elon was probably biding his time in the Territories, and that the PM usually knew "how to find someone if he really wants to."
Elon and Lieberman's ministerial portfolios will remain under the temporary control of the prime minister.
However, Labor party sources quoted on Israel Radio said that based on precedent, the 48 hour notice provided by Sharon may not include Shabbat, and Lieberman and Elon may still be cabinet members on Sunday. In October 2002, when Labor party ministers led by MK Binyamin Ben Eliezer left Sharon's national unity coalition over a budget vote, ministers' resignation letters were submitted before Shabbat, and the 48-hour notice did not include Shabbat.
Justice Minister Yosef Lapid said that ministers Netanyahu, Livnat and Shalom should now understand that in order to keep the Likud united, they had to support the prime minister's diplomatic plan. Lapid said he was glad Lieberman had been dismissed, saying that with his recent comments regarding Israeli Arabs, Lieberman sounded like Austria's Joerg Haider and France's Jean-Marie Le Pen.
Labor party sources told Israel Radio that if Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan is approved in Sunday's cabinet meeting, the party would provide him with a wide security net in Monday's no-confidence vote.
Labor party officials stress that the possibility of joining Likud in a possible national unity government is not on the immediate agenda.
Sharon did not wait for ministers Elon and Lieberman to answer his summons Friday, deciding instead to send their letters of dismissal early Friday. The dismissal of a minister comes into effect 48 hours after a letter has been given.
Elon and Lieberman's dismissals may provide Sharon with a majority when the Cabinet votes on his unilateral disengagement plan on Sunday. By firing Lieberman and Elon, Sharon has ensured himself a one-vote majority.
Transportation Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Friday that he was "proud" to receive a letter of dismissal from prime minister Ariel Sharon. "I am not ashamed, I will go and get my letter of dismissal. But I told the prime minister that I could not make it to his office in Tel-Aviv by 9am. I got home late last night, and I live out in the Judean desert. I told him I could make it later in the day, to meet a prime minister who is taking an unprecedented step of firing another minister for voicing a different opinion," Lieberman said.
Lieberman has informed the prime minister that he can attend a meeting with him at 1pm Friday, and not at 9am, as the prime minister requested. Lieberman added that the unilateral disengagement plan is not binding to him as it has not been approved by the government.
"I am not being fired for negligence at my post, but because I don't agree with the prime minister," Lieberman added.
Furthermore, Lieberman contended that Sharon was attempting to project the troubles within the Likud onto the National Union party. "The prime minister has failed time after time," Lieberman said on Israel Radio. "He failed with the road map, with [former PA Prime Minister] Abu Mazen; he failed with the Tannenbaum affair, which resulted in something strange in the extreme, and he failed by deciding to take his plan to a Likud vote. Instead of saying to himself that he is not getting the best counsel, he keeps on failing," Lieberman said.
Round-the-clock talks to save the coalition that went on for more than a day in Tel Aviv collapsed Thursday night. In the end, Sharon refused to accept a compromise proposal by his ministers, whereby they would support the plan now but continue to fund settlements in the Gaza Strip.
Housing and Construction Minister Effie Eitam said Friday that Sharon had made "an irreversible ideological about-face" and that the dismissals of Elon and Lieberman was undemocratic, even "dictatorial". He called on members of the National Religious Party, and all Israelis on the right of the political spectrum to "come to their conclusions about the future of the Sharon government."
Social Affairs Minister Zevulun Orlev said Friday morning that the policy of dismissing ministers in order to gain a cabinet majority sets a dangerous precedent. Orlev said he was not sure that National Religious Party ministers should resign in a show of solidarity with their National Unity counterparts. "There is no doubt that this morning we are angry and hurt, and we should not take decisions when we are angry," Orlev said, adding that he would resign from government first thing Saturday morning if it weren't for his public responsibilities.
Earlier Thursday it appeared that a compromise had been reached that would have both assured Sharon a majority in the cabinet when the plan comes to a vote on Sunday, and might have kept the coalition intact without dismissing anyone.
"For more than two weeks now I have been working toward a compromise that would safeguard the stability of the Likud. Efforts to this end are still under way, and I sincerely hope they will succeed," Sharon said before a meeting in Likud headquarters Thursday night.
"In any case, I am committed to bring my plan to a cabinet vote this coming Sunday and to see it pass."
But despite earlier optimism that a breakthrough had been reached upon the return of his bureau chief Dov Weisglass from Washington, Sharon turned down the full compromise brokered by Immigration and Absorption Minister Tzipi Livni.
She had spent more than 24 hours in negotiations in the Carleton Hotel in Tel Aviv with three wavering ministers on the disengagement plan Binyamin Netanyahu, Silvan Shalom, and Limor Livnat in hopes to sway one, if not all of them, to support it.
She also worked to convince the National Religious Party to stay in the government, even if a disengagement plan is passed.
Under her compromise, the cabinet would approve in principle the idea of disengagement but would not actually vote to dismantle settlements for another nine months. During the delay, plans would be drawn up for the evacuation.
Sharon had approved the concept of Livni's plan, but in the end was not satisfied with the concessions made to the NRP on the issue of continued funding for the settlements in Gush Katif.
What exactly does Elon expect to accomplish? He can't hide forever, and as soon as he's caught and fired, the plan will get approved.
Sharon must be desparate to try something ... this doesn't seem like him ... but Gaza is such a rat-infested wasteland (it seems) that maybe he has given up on it ...
This is a sad business. Sharon has been a hero, but his behavior over the past few years reminds me in a significant way of bill clinton. He is an old man obsessed with leaving a "historic legacy" as a peacemaker. Instead, he is guaranteeing that future generations will revile him.
That's my opinion.
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Sharon has turned into a fool. If only he were to play such hardball with Arafat as he does with his own cabinet!
Wasn't there an election recently deciding not to evacuate Gaza?
Sharon ran on the platform of not ceding Gaza to terrorists, in stark contrast to his opponent on the left. Now Sharon has become the left. Oh well. Sharon's government will soon collapse, rightfully so.
And I think you are referring to the vote in the Likud party over the plan, which Sharon before hand said he would respect. The party voted against his plan, but he didn't comply.
One can't compare God fearing Elon to those Texas Democrats. The majority in Israel voted for the right in the last elections against the left which wanted to give Gaza to terrorists, etc. Likud, the main "rightwing" party, has a PM who is adopting the leftwing platform. Sharon's government will fall. It won't matter what the cabinet votes, Sharon will not succeed in his plan to expel Jews from their homes in gaza and northern samaria.
There should already be sufficient proof of what happens when land is given to terrorists. Look at Gaza today. 98% of it is controlled by the Palestinian Authority. Are they saying that because the 2% of the land there is controlled by Israel is the reason they can't combat terror? What a joke. The PA IS THE TERROR. Ceding more land to it serves nothing but hurts Israel.
Why is Sharon pushing so hard for the plan? Is he just stubborn, or is there undisclosed major pressure from the US government on him to do this?
Dramatic times. I sense strategery here. Sharon is clearly desperate to clear out of Gaza, no matter what, and I don't thinhk it's because he is afraid. Time will tell.
Meanhwile, I nominate Yatzpan for Tourism Minister.
Im with you Adam. In my opinion, Israel should never have given up the Sinai. That would have made them tactically stronger. The Sinai is also full of oil.
I think there must be something more to this ... of course, Egypt is acting like they're pressuring Arafat, which I don't really buy, but the fact that Egypt was in that area makes me wonder what the connections are ...
Sharon certainly isn't weak, but I'll admit this has me scratching my head ... unless he's trying to appease moderate / left-wing Israelis by the Gaza pullout ...
or he is in preparation for a Pali state and say to them, fine you can have Gaza and the West Bank (not Jerusalem) so rule yourselves ... of course, that will give the terror supporters even firmer foothold ...
interesting events over there the past 60 days or so ...
Sharon is a pathetic coward. IF he had any integrity he would have announced that the 8,500 Jews being cleansed from Gaza would be matched by 8,500 Israeli Arabs being deported to Gaza. That would be a minimal fig leaf for this disgrace. But he doesn't even have the minor courage to stand up to the expected outcry over such a proposal, and use it as an excellent chance to discuss the grotesque double-standard when it comes to Jews vs. Arabs, and their right to live where they want. As it stands now, this is nothing but a total victory for Hamas, and it is viewed exactly so throughout the Arab world. Disgusting. I hope Yitzhak Rabin is suffering eternal agony in hell for making all this possible.
WARNING: This is a high volume ping lis
LOL. Time my friend, time. The Arab murderers are addicted to murder that they might just attempt another attack on Israelis in Gaza while the order is delayed.
It is then much more difficult for Sharon to make a concession at that moment. Sharon's troubles are mounting day by day. Yes. Time, even by a day is worth forstalling Sharon's insanity.
Hey Alouette give us first account when the vote come in on that Gaza withdrawel I am curious
So this Sunday I SEEEE
War is coming. Can't have the settlers sitting in there when they pull out all the stops and start pounding the place.
But Sharon can't very well say that up front.
Is this the same withdrawal plan that Sharon agreed to offer to voters for approval which it failed to win? Why is he implementing it, then?
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