National Union Leaders Criticize PM for Veering Toward Labor

Leaders say Sharon should create 'stable government of the right-wing camp'; Avigdor Lieberman asks smaller parties to withdraw candidacy.

National Union leaders have been criticizing Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for his apparent preference for inviting the Labor Party to join a unity coalition instead of creating what they termed "the stable government of the right-wing camp."

National Union head Avigdor Lieberman has said Sharon will have a hard time getting his own party to agree to a unity government with Labor, due to the decline of the Likud's projected strength in the Knesset and its lowered public standing.

There have been more signs over the last few days that Sharon is indeed aiming for a unity government with Labor and disregarding the Likud's political alliance with the National Union party. Although Lieberman isn't completely rejecting participating in a coalition with Labor, he said Labor's basic platform must be crystallized before a coalition with the right wing can be established.

Lieberman said Sharon would be acting against the Likud constitution, which Lieberman himself helped create, if Sharon were to support a Palestinian state - a move Lieberman said Likud Central Committee members oppose.

"I speak to Likud Central Committee members," said Lieberman. "They want a right-wing government."

Moledet head Benny Elon reacted angrily to the Likud's recent attack on the National Union, saying he can't recall a situation in which the leader of the right wing attacks his own camp. Moledet is part of National Union.

Elon said at a National Union press conference yesterday that he's ready to fund the propaganda campaign of Labor head Amram Mitzna if Mitzna intends to follow through on his assurance that he will refuse to participate in a unity government under Sharon.

Lieberman's tough stance may be an attempt to keep National Union voters from moving to Herut or other right-wing parties. He recently turned to heads of right-wing movements whose chances of getting enough votes to make it into the Knesset are low – Michael Kleiner, David Magen, Rabbi Ba-Gad, Rabbi Kadouri and leaders of the Tsomet party – and requested that they withdraw their candidacy so as not to lessen the power of the right-wing camp.

Eitam: Palmach Ze'evi to back National Religious Party in general elections

Palmach Ze'evi, the son of assassinated far-right minister Rehavam Ze'evi, is expected to announce his support for the National Religious Party in the upcoming general elections, party leader Infrastructure Minister Effi Eitam said yesterday.

Eitam was responding to a report on the Web site of Arutz Sheva, a right-wing pirate radio station. Ze'evi refused to comment on the report, however, saying that he would soon make a statement of his own on the issue.

According to Arutz Sheva, Ze'evi's statement is expected following his meeting with Eitam at the NRP leader's Golan Heights home.

Avigdor Lieberman, chairman of National Union, which includes Rehavam Ze'evi's Moledet party, told a Jerusalem press conference that he understood from talks with Palmach Ze'evi that Ze'evi had not reached an agreement with the NRP. Lieberman added that the two had spoken about the possibility of continuing their association.

Following the death of his father, Palmach Ze'evi lost against Elon in the battle for the party leadership. After the ballot, Ze'evi considered establishing a new right-wing party to compete against Moledet.

Current Moledet chairman, MK Benny Elon, recently complied with a request by the Ze'evi family to cut all pictures of Rehavam Ze'evi from the party's election broadcasts. He said, "I am sorry about everything that has happened; it causes me a lot of pain."