JERUSALEM (Apr. 13)
Disaffection in the top ranks of Likud has been effectively silenced by Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir.
Feuding Likud ministers have quickly deferred to his urging that they set aside their internal squabbling in the interests of the party’s overall pre-election image.
The decibel level, which rose to a roar after Shamir made concessions to prevent Foreign Minister David Levy from bolting the party a week ago, has been reduced to a whisper.
Injured pride and frustrated ambitions seem to have been swallowed. Defense Minister Moshe Arens, who was catapulted out of the No. 2 spot in the party’s hierarchy by the Shamir-Levy deal, hotly denied reports that he was about to petition the courts to void it.
“Why should I rant and rage?” Arens asked reporters Monday, after the news media quoted sources close to him saying he was fuming over Shamir’s “capitulation” to Levy.
“It doesn’t do any good anyway. And we are entering into the election campaign, so I do: not wish to discuss internal Likud problems in public,” Arens said.
The only “source close to me is my wife, and she hasn’t said anything,” the defense minister added.
The same campaign considerations seem to have muted the normally outspoken housing minister, Ariel Sharon.
A demand was made by the Sharon camp for the same proportional allocation of party power and positions that Shamir promised the Levy camp. But having established his position, Sharon refrained from pressing it, at least until after the elections.
Meanwhile, the Likud and Finance Minister Yitzhak Moda’i each professed to be pleased by the ruling handed down Sunday by arbitrator Amnon Goldenberg.
He was appointed by both sides to resolve a dispute over Shamir’s refusal to honor a 2-year-old agreement to include Moda’i and his supporters in Likud’s election slate this year.
Goldenberg held that while Likud was wrong to renege on its signed undertaking, the question is moot because Moda’i and his allies have set up their own party, the New Liberals, to run for election to the Knesset on June 23.
Moda’i met privately with Shamir on Monday and emerged to announce that the matter was closed.
He launched his new party at one of the plushest locations in Tel Aviv last week, seeming to confirm the widely held notion that the New Liberals have large sums of cash at their disposal.
The outgoing finance minister outlined a political platform that stresses economic issues and leaves the questions of peace and territories to a referendum.