Here’s the Jerusalem Post’s report on the departure of Israel’s Labor Party from Ariel Sharon’s government. All of the Labor ministers, including Defense Minister and party leader Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, have resigned, ostensibly over a dispute regarding budget allocations to Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. However, the article views the dispute as insubstantial. It suggests that Ben-Eliezer left the government in order to bolster his position in the upcoming Labor Party primaries. Polls show Ben-Eliezer trailing two more dovish challengers. Moreover, the article notes that Labor was always expected to bolt the coalition eventually in order to position itself as a “moderate” alternative to Sharon. Labor’s departure will not topple Sharon’s government, but will force Sharon either to rely on “small far-right parties” or call for early elections. Right now, elections are scheduled for November 2003.
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