JERUSALEM (Mar. 9)
Foreign Minister David Levy is seriously considering breaking away from Likud and forming his own party to run in the June 23 Knesset elections, according to media reports here.
Some of Levy’s supporters have called openly for him to make the break and strike out on his own in the aftermath of the political disaster he suffered at the hands of the Likud Central Committee in Tel Aviv last week.
Levy candidates were virtually shut out of the voting March 1 and 2, when the 3,500-member committee decided who would be on its 1992 Knesset slate and where in the hierarchal order.
The foreign minister, No. 2 man in the outgoing government, slipped to No. 4, below Yitzhak Shamir, Moshe Arens and Ariel Sharon.
His rift with the Likud leadership appeared to widen Sunday when Levy demonstratively declined Shamir’s invitation for a private meeting.
Although Levy has not committed himself yet to any political course, his supporters are smarting from a defeat they blame on a conspiracy between Shamir, Arens and Sharon.
Their alleged deal kept all but a handful of Levy loyalists out of the “safe” spots on the election list.
Several Levy supporters sensed an ethnic–meaning anti-Sephardi — factor in the Shamir-Sharon deal, although a good many members of the Shamir-Arens camp are themselves Sephardim, while some leading Levy-backers are Ashkenazic Jews.
Levy himself, addressing his supporters last week, dwelt on a policy factor, which he said separated him from the mainstream leadership.
He accused the Shamir-Arens-Sharon axis of pulling the party to the extremist right, while he, Levy, remained faithful to the policy positions embodied in the 1978 Camp David accords, which led to the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty.
Another “loser” in the Likud voting, Trade Minister Moshe Nissim, did meet privately with Shamir over the weekend and reportedly was promised a senior position on the party’s election campaign staff.
But political sources said Nissim still felt wounded and betrayed by the prime minister and Arens.
Nissim, who controlled several hundred members of Likud’s former Liberal faction in the Central Committee, made common cause with Levy.