Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Amirav Says He is Relieved to Be out of Herut Party

January 29, 1988
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Two days after Moshe Amirav quit the Herut Party, he felt relieved.

“It’s like after a divorce,” he said. “I have just ended a chapter in my life. Age is advancing. The bride is no longer as pretty. She complains that the bridegroom is too leftist, and he complains that she leans too far to the right.”

Amirav, 42, tore up his Herut membership card Tuesday night, following 20 years in the movement. He did so after the party’s High Court decided 3-2 to strip him of his seat in the Central Committee and to bar him from any other posts.

The court, chaired by Eliahu Lankin, former ambassador to South Africa, deliberated for four hours before reaching its decision. It rejected a sentence advocated by two of the judges to expel Amirav from the party altogether.

According to the charge sheet, Amirav met with people who have close ties with the Palestine Liberation Organization. It was referring to his talks last summer with Feisal Husseini, head of the Jerusalem Arab Studies Society, considered the senior PLO activist in the territories, and Dr. Sari Nusseibeh of Bir Zeit University.

Amirav also was charged with criticism of Premier Yitzhak Shamir’s policies toward the peace process and with protesting outside the residence of Commerce and Industry Minister Ariel Sharon in the Old City in Jerusalem.

Amirav has never denied the charges, but he said that he met with the Palestinian personalities to advocate his own peace plan, which he argued was an extension of the autonomy plan by Menachem Begin, then the Herut leader.

Amirav charged that Shamir has led the party into “an ideological bunker with Geula Cohen and Rabbi Meir Kahane’s Kach movement.” Cohen is the charismatic leader of the ultranationalist settlers’ movement Gush Emunim.

When reports of Amirav’s contacts were first published last summer, Amirav was considered a maverick. But the picture has changed somewhat. He was recently joined by a number of people, among them the national chairman of Betar, the youth movement of Herut.

Tel Aviv Mayor Shlomo Lahat, who only recently returned to the party, took an even more extreme step earlier this month. He announced in a radio interview that he was ready to give up the territories in a final settlement. Although party leaders reacted angrily, no measures were taken against Lahat.

Amirav decided to quit the party, because he regarded the decision to strip him of his seat as a virtual expulsion. Interviewed Thursday in Yediot Achronot, he complained that others who think like him sit with their mouths shut and let Shamir be the “national stopper.”

He mentioned specifically Labor and Social Affairs Minister Moshe Katzav, and Knesset members Dan Meridor, Ehud Olmert, Meir Shitrit and Micha Reisser.

“I am surprised not that they did not come out in my defense, but that all think like me that Shamir is the national stopper and they just sit there quietly and don’t send him home.

“Let them take anyone. Everybody else is better than Shamir,” he said. “Let them take (Ariel) Sharon, (David) Levy, (Moshe) Arens, Dan Meridor. This is a young movement. Rather than shake it, they prefer to sit quietly and soon they will make Shamir once again run for the premiership.”

Recommended from JTA