Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

15 Av 5763 - August 13, 2003 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Politica: The Netanyahu-Silvan Camp

by E. Rauchberger

Ariel Sharon's staff is plenty worried. Not by the economic or political state of affairs and certainly not by the weaker ranks of society and the tents erected in Kiryat Hamemshalah near the Prime Minister's Office. Instead Sharon's staffers and family members are fretting over recent progress in criminal investigations of cases in which the Prime Minister was allegedly involved.

No other prime minister has ever been tied to so many scandals. Some, such as Netanyahu and Barak, were suspected of criminal violations, but Sharon and his family allegedly went further. From the election associations scandal in the 2001 elections to the subsequent tale of the Cyril Kern loan, the Sharon name was later associated with the Greek island scandal and the Israel Lands Authority decision on the land in Lod which was detailed in the State Comptroller's report. But Attorney General Eliakim Rubinstein ruled there was insufficient evidence to warrant opening a criminal investigation against Sharon.

Rubinstein has announced he plans to resign from his post by January 2004. By then, according to an agreement with the Justice Minister and in order to pave the way for the High Court, Rubinstein pledged to finish all of the cases tied to high-ranking figures, including the cases against Sharon.

The fact that there is a final date for the investigations of the Prime Minister and the decision as to whether to file an indictment against him are what keep Sharon's staff and family awake at night. They would much prefer to let these cases sit in Rubinstein's drawer and in investigation rooms for a few years. But it appears their wish will not come true.

The silence on the part of Sharon's son Gilad adds little to the mood prevailing in the Prime Minister's Office. Yet it appears Gilad has little choice other than to keep quiet. Otherwise everything will come to light and he has no intention of making life easier for the police investigators. As far as he is concerned, if they want to obtain incriminating evidence let them sweat a bit. He is not about to volunteer himself and certainly not his father.

Meanwhile Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is sitting off to the side, watching quietly as events unfold. Since the government was formed, Netanyahu has come into line with Sharon considerably. He votes with him on almost every issue, including policy matters on which the two seemingly have substantial differences. His avoidance of conflict with Sharon is quite pronounced.

Netanyahu is well aware that Sharon is sitting on hot coals that will burst into flame or just burn out quietly. Either Sharon will be sent packing or he'll stay. In either case Netanyahu sees himself as a natural candidate to take Sharon's place and as such he has no interest in opening a front against a prime minister who may be governing on borrowed time.

Yet Netanyahu is not at ease politically. He knows at least one other person is eyeing the throne, and maybe two. Ehud Olmert certainly sees himself as a possible heir to Sharon's inheritance. The other figure who appears to have entertained such thoughts but is not yet unfettering them is Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz.

Netanyahu is unafraid of Olmert. Everybody knows he has no chance. He barely managed to reach, in the internal elections at the Likud Center, the thirtieth slot. Olmert, lacking an electoral base, is a potential candidate only in his own eyes. On the other hand he should not be totally discounted because under certain circumstances the Sharon camp might rally around him.

Two weeks ago Netanyahu took a major political step toward attaining his goal when he made peace with Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom. The two had very frosty relations for a long time but now they have decided to join together under a single banner, a move that promises to yield dividends for both of them.

Apparently realizing Netanyahu is inevitably destined to be the Likud's leading man, Shalom will boost Netanyahu's strength out in the field. Netanyahu promised to give him the Number 2 spot, which means he would retain his position as Foreign Minister or would receive any other ministerial portfolio he chose. Silvan Shalom is still young and is building himself for the future, primarily by trying to get ahead of his main rival, Limor Livnat. Netanyahu will help him in the long term and he will help Netanyahu in the short term.

All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.