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January 14, 2005

THIS WEEK 14.01.05

THIS WEEK, a review of some of the main news stories in the week ending January 14th.

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January 13, 2005

SHARON & SHAS

Prime Minister Sharon managed to win a narrow Knesset majority for his new disengagement cabinet, but he is now facing a new crisis. Sharon’s Likud party expresses mounting annoyance over the Prime Minister’s dependence on Arab and Left-wing Yachad Knesset members. It was only with their votes that Sharon gained Knesset approval for his new cabinet with Labor and United Torah Judaism. Sharon has now turned to Shas, another ultra-orthodox party, in order to bring them into the coalition and silence Likud criticism. However, Shas is demanding major changes in the new state budget and a free vote when it comes to the withdrawal.

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January 11, 2005

SHARON'S STABILITY

Sharon's New Coalition Cabinet Holds First Cabinet Session. Several Likud Cabinet Ministers Annoyed At Government's Survival Depending On Support Of Far Left And Arab MKs.Likud 'Rebels' Likely To Vote For State Budget, After All Withdrawal Items Are Deleted.

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January 10, 2005

SHARON & ABBAS - THE VICTORS

Israel and the Palestinians are both on the move. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has forged a new Israeli cabinet bound on withdrawing from the Gaza Strip and four West Bank settlements. The Knesset vote was 58 in favor, 56 including 13 Likud rebels against, while 6 MKs abstained. Sharon squeaked through with the help of left wing Yachad, Arab MKs and former Shinui MK Yossi Paritsky. In another surprise vote, UTJ MK Meir Porush abstained. Meanwhile in the Palestinian Autonomy, President-elect Mahmoud Abbas took 62 % of the vote in yesterday’s historic election. Outside the Knesset, 15,000 rightwing demonstrators protested against the withdrawal.

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January 06, 2005

CLOSING THE DEAL

The decision by United Torah Judaism to join Prime Minister Sharon’s new coalition is a big step on the way for Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and four West Bank settlements. On January 3rd, IsraCast reported that a deal was in the making – UTJ proposed that it enter the coalition on condition it be enabled to abstain on disengagement votes in the Knesset; Sharon apparently agreed.

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January 03, 2005

SHARON - ULTRA-ORTHODOX SHOWDOWN

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s government and his plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and four West Bank settlements now hang in the balance. In order to form a new coalition to carry out the disengagement, Sharon needs the five Knesset Members of United Torah Judaism, an ultra-orthodox religious party. The Prime Minister warns if UTJ does not agree to join a Likud-Labor by the end of the week, he might call an early election.

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December 29, 2004

SHARON IN TROUBLE

The government crisis has deepened over Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s moves to pass the new state budget. After two far right parties bolted the coalition in protest over Sharon’s ‘Gaza+4’ withdrawal plan in Knesset, Sharon has made a budget payoff to the ultra-orthodox United Torah Judaism Party and possibly the NRP for their support in passing the budget this Wednesday. However, in response, the coalition party Shinui warns it will now vote against the budget; if it does Sharon will fire Shinui from the coalition. The government crisis worsens day by day.

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December 28, 2004

SHARON SETBACK

The vote in the Knesset Law Committee was a tie; eight-all on legislation needed to implement Sharon’s plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and four West Bank settlements by the end of 2005. Reporter David Essing says there was more than one big surprise in the tie vote: Likud hard-liners have vowed to fight Sharon’s withdrawal every step of the way. In the Knesset Law committee Arab Knesset Member Azmi Bishara, who surprisingly abstained in the vote to get Israeli settlers out of Gaza, joined them in defeating the bill.

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December 27, 2004

MORE SHARON 'DOS AND DON'TS'

In a briefing to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon reviewed the current state of his political and military thinking. In addition to warning that the IDF will react very severely, if the Palestinians attack Israeli civilians during next year’s evacuation of the Gaza Strip and four West Bank settlements, Sharon also took the wraps off several other burning issues.

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December 10, 2004

SHARON - THE MORNING AFTER

After his decisive victory at the Likud convention, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon lost no time in inviting Labor, Shas and United Torah Judaism to join a new government coalition. The dramatic vote reversed an earlier decision three months ago, giving Sharon a 62-38% win. Although Likud cabinet minister Ehud Olmert says the inclusion of Labor will mean the Gaza withdrawal is now ‘in the bag’, MK Zvi Hendel of the National Union warns that Sharon’s brutal withdrawal tactics may trigger a civil war. David Essing has this analysis of what is being as an historic milestone in the country’s history:

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has won back his Likud party and apparently a new coalition. The door is now wide open, for Sharon to carry out a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and four West Bank settlements.

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December 07, 2004

GETTING SERIOUS IN NEW MIDDLE EAST

Throughout the region, the talk today is about the prospect the Middle East may be on the brink of compromise and peace, instead of embroiled in bloodshed and terrorism. The flurry of optimism has been triggered by Egypt’s dramatic release of the Israeli Druze citizen Azam Azam. But there are other moves afoot and David Essing has this analysis of why and where things may be headed.

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December 03, 2004

IRAN'S POINT OF NUCLEAR NO-RETURN

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon warns that Iran is now stock-piling raw material to enrich uranium for its nuclear weapons program. Sharon issues the warning at a news conference with Israeli editors and reporters in Tel Aviv. The annual gathering commemorates the Nov. 29th U.N. Partition vote, which lead to the establishment of the modern day state of Israel.

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November 29, 2004

SHARON IN TROUBLE

The government crisis has deepened over Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s moves to pass the new state budget. After two far right parties bolted the coalition in protest over Sharon’s ‘Gaza+4’ withdrawal plan in Knesset, Sharon has made a budget payoff to the ultra-orthodox United Torah Judaism Party and possibly the NRP for their support in passing the budget this Wednesday. However, in response, the coalition party Shinui warns it will now vote against the budget; if it does Sharon will fire Shinui from the coalition. The government crisis worsens day by day.

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November 25, 2004

SHARON’S GRIDLOCK

Time may be running out for Prime Minister Sharon. The opposition Labor party, headed by Shimon Peres has now decided to table a no-confidence over the government’s economic policy in light of statistics indicating that more Israelis are now living in poverty. So, will Sharon be able to survive in his uphill battle to muster a parliamentary majority to implement his plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and four West Bank settlements. But this is only one of the Prime Minister’s headaches these days; Shinui leader Tommy Lapid threatens to bolt the coalition if Sharon makes a political payoff to an ultra- orthodox party for supporting the new draft budget.

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October 27, 2004

LIKUD MELTDOWN OVER GAZA?

Where is the ruling Likud Party of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon now headed? The party split down the middle; some Likud MKs voted for Sharon’s withdrawal while others opposed it. In addition, Sharon’s party rival Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and three other cabinet ministers issued an ultimatum, warning they will resign if the Prime Minister does not agree to a national referendum within 2 weeks. Meir Sheetrit another Likud cabinet minister says the cabinet ‘rebels’ backed down in yesterday’s vote and he believes they will again.

However, Likud Cabinet Minister Uzi Landau and Deputy Minister Michael Ratzon now say that 5 more Likud cabinet ministers also oppose the pullout and Sharon’s opponents are now a majority in the Likud Knesset caucus.

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October 26, 2004

KNESSET SAYS YES TO GAZA WITHDRAWAL

Israel’s Parliament, the Knesset, has voted in favor of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s disengagement plan to evacuate the Gaza Strip and 4 northern Samaria settlements by the end of next year. However, there was high drama hours before the vote when Binyamin Netanyahu, Sharon’s main rival in the Likud party, served an ultimatum to the Prime Minister; Netanyahu and three other ministers Livnat, Katz and Naveh threatened to resign unless Sharon agreed to hold a national referendum on the evacuation within 14 days. But then in the Knesset vote, the four rebel ministers caused an up-roar when they voted for Sharon’s proposal. Analyst David Essing says Netanyahu has blinked first in what is now an open confrontation with Sharon.

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October 25, 2004

SHARON - ‘HOUR OF FATE’

Launching the historic Knesset debate of his withdrawal plan, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called on Israel’s parliament to support a pullout from the Gaza Strip and 4 West Bank settlements. With the support of the opposition Labor party, Sharon can count on a majority when the 120 MKs vote on Tuesday night. Labor party leader Shimon Peres also came out in strong support of Sharon. Israeli police in the capital have gone on special alert to cope with tens of thousands of settlers who plan on besieging the parliament in Jerusalem.

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October 24, 2004

DISENGAGEMENT "ON POINTS"

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s decision will not block the Knesset passage of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s withdrawal plan on Tuesday. However, the 11 Shas votes against the pullout from Gaza and 4 West Bank settlements, has added momentum to Sharon’s opponents. The opponents are now threatening to scuttle the new state budget which will come before the House within two weeks.

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October 23, 2004

DISENGAGEMENT SHOWDOWN

On October 25th, the Knesset is set for an historic vote on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and 4 West Bank settlements by the end of next year. Although the common wisdom is that Sharon will garner a majority, analyst David Essing says the Prime Minister needs a decisive win to stem campaign being mounted by opponents to the withdrawal.

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October 17, 2004

SHARON vs SETTLERS

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon faced off with settler leaders and neither side gave way. Sharon declared he will go ahead with the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and 4 settlements in Samaria by the end of next year. The settlers declare they’ll block the evacuation by political means while also warning of the danger of civil strife.

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