A few days after the January 28, 2003 election, then National Union chairman, Avigdor Lieberman (head of its Israel Beiteinu faction), convened a meeting of various representatives of the “nationalist camp.” I was present representing the Yamin Israel Party. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss whether National Union should join the Sharon government. I (and others) urged Lieberman not to join that government.
My reason was simply this: Sharon was committed to a Palestinian state. Indeed, during the election campaign, Sharon warned that he would not appoint anyone to his cabinet who opposed a Palestinian state—an unprecedented display of arrogance! I advised Lieberman to initiate a grass roots movement in Yesha, so many of whose residents foolishly voted for Sharon’s Likud party and thereby magnified the number of Likud ministers (or wimps) in his cabinet.
I harbored no doubt that Lieberman would join the Sharon government, if only because Lieberman, as head of Israel Beiteinu, never maintained a consistent and principled position against a Palestinian state, as can be seen by his zigzags in the Russian print media.
But note well that Lieberman could not have joined the Sharon government without the agreement of his colleagues, in particular, Benny Elon, chairman of the Moledet faction of National Union. Nor would National Union have joined that government without the cooperation of the National Religious Party headed by Effie Eitam (and now by Zevulun Orlev).
Indeed, both NU and the NRP signed Sharon’s March 3, 2003 coalition agreement, which explicitly bound the signatories to the Oslo Agreement and all agreements derived there from—and you surely know that Oslo means Israel’s withdrawal from Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. By signing that coalition agreement, NU and NRP doomed Gush Katif. And now they want you to vote for them again!
So I put it to you: Suppose NU and NRP had not joined the Sharon government after the January 2003 election. What kind of coalition would Sharon have formed? The Likud had 40 seats in the Knesset. With Shinui’s 15, Sharon had 55 seats. It’s morally certain that he could not have formed a national unity government with Labor, if only because Labor had been devastated in the election, winning only 19 seats—an unprecedented defeat. And that defeat was primarily the result of Labor’s “unilateral disengagement” platform, which was rejected by an overwhelming majority of the public.
A virtual national referendum had been taken on that paramount issue, and the vote against disengagement was fresh in the public’s mind.
Now, inasmuch as United Torah Judaism (UTJ) had only 5 seats, Sharon would have had to turn to the Shas party to form a government, since Shas had 11 seats. But just as Shinui—which campaigned on an anti-religious platform—resigned from the cabinet when Sharon bribed the ultra-religious UTJ to form a national unity government with Labor in 2004, so Shinui could hardly have joined the government—immediately following the 2003 election—if Sharon had turned to the ultra-religious Shas party to form a government. That means stalemate! How marvelous!
Whatever might have followed, one thing is clear: National Union and the National Religious Party made the Sharon government and are fully responsible for the crime perpetrated against the Jews of Gush Katif and northern Samaria by the Likud-led government of Ariel Sharon.
As a matter of honor, the leaders of NU and NRP should have resigned. That they now ask you to vote for them exemplifies the shamelessness that has come to characterize Israeli politics—which reached obscene proportions when part of the rubbish of the Likud formed Kadima. Don’t perpetuate this shamelessness.