National Union Leaders Criticize Sharon for Veering Toward Coalition With Labor

Leaders say PM should go for 'stable government of the right-wing camp' rather than wooing Labor for unity coalition; National Union tries to get smaller camps to back out.

National Union leaders have been criticizing Prime Minister Ariel Sharon lately 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.