Sharansky: Petty Politics Behind Veto

Former minister Natan Sharansky views the Advice and Consent committee's veto of his candidacy for Jewish Agency chairman as an "unprecedented violation" of the agency's democratic process. He told Haaretz last night that he studied the organization's rules and was sure he could win the race.

"This committee was created to prevent petty Israeli politics from influencing the appointment of candidates, but what happened here - perhaps for the first time - is that it was used to introduce Israeli politics and influence the outcome of the election."

The one-time refusenik insisted he would have kept politics out of the agency had he been appointed - "just as I fought off many attempts to let Oslo play a role in the Soviet Jewry Zionist Forum when I headed it."

In response to claims that his candidacy was never viable because of the World Zionist Organization's balance of power, and that he was simply used to bash the prime minister, Sharansky said: "If it was so obvious I would lose, why [veto me] and embarrass the prime minister and damage the prestige of the agency? They all knew I had a very good chance of an easy victory."

Sharansky, who did not rule out running against Bielski for the post in a year's time, said that an outcome of this episode was an improvement of his position in the Likud. "I won't resist," he said.