TEL AVIV (May. 10)
The order of candidates selected by the Herut Central Committee for the July 23 elections yesterday assured former Defense Minister Ariel Sharon of an influential role in the party’s leadership forums but removed him as an immediate threat to his successor, Defense Minister Moshe Arens, political observers said today.
Sharon has frequently criticized Arens’ policies in public and made no secret of his desire to have his old job back. He also mounted an unexpectedly strong challenge to the leadership of Premier Yitzhak Shamir last month.
Political prudence dictated that Sharon be granted a position of power in the party’s top echelons which would prevent him from building a personal power base as an “ousted underdog,” the observers noted.
This, precisely, was the outcome of the Central Committee’s secret ballot which placed Deputy Premier David Levy second to Shamir, followed by Arens and then Sharon. Sharon is expected to hold fifth or sixth place on the combined Herut-Liberal Party list which will constitute the Likud ticket presented to the voters in July. Relatively few of his supporters among Herut’s panel of candidates won safe spots.
By contrast, supporters of Levy did well. But observers saw it significant that the selection process placed Sharon immediately behind Arens and former Finance Minister Yoram Aridor immediately behind his successor, incumbent Finance Minister Yigal Cohen-Orgad. They suggested that this could be a warning that the performance of the incumbent ministers will be under scrutiny should Likud win the elections.
One surprise outcome of the Herut balloting was relegation of Communications Minister Mordechai Zipori to the 29th spot. He will sink even lower on the Herut-Liberal combined list and may be denied re-election to the Knesset. Transport Minister Haim Corfu was downgraded to 15th place and Deputy Minister of
Education and Culture Miriam Tassa-Glazer drew the 16th spot. Friends of Zipori claimed the minister was being “punished” for his independent positions, especially his criticism of the conduct of the Lebanon war.
COMPLAINTS BY YOUNG GENERATION AND OLD GUARD
Both the Herut young generation and the old guard had cause for complaint after the Central Committee completed the list. Two promising newcomers, Cabinet secretary Dan Meridor and Eli Landau, often described as the “second generation of the Herut founders” were denied places that would guarantee their election to the Knesset.
The same was true for Herut veteran Eitan Livni who said the party list “rang down the curtain on the old fighting family (Irgun and the Stern goup) who have now been cast aside.”
This, perhaps, could not have been avoided, given the departure from political activity of former Premier Menachem Begin. Begin refused even to allow his name to be placed in an “honorary” last place on the election list, though it might have helped the party’s election prospects.
Generally speaking, according to observers, Herut is now headed by men who, though committed to its ideology, are more pragmatic politicans than ideologues.
LABOR BEGINS ELECTION LIST PROCESS
Meanwhile, the opposition Labor Party has only just begun the process of building its election list. Unlike Herut, which uses the secret ballot, this will be done by an appointments committee, the size and composition of which will be decided by the Labor Party’s political bureau which is scheduled to meet later today.
There was some trouble on the far right today. Tzomet, the new party founded by former Chief of Staff Gen. Rafael Eitan, decided against running on a joint list with the ultra-nationalist Tehiya party. This posed a dilemma for Eitan who was just designated No. 2 man on the Tehiya list, following Science Minister Yuval Neeman.