Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Sharon May Be Ousted Over Gaza

Israeli leader Ariel Sharon says he may be ousted from the helm of his right-wing faction after the Gaza Strip withdrawal.
Sharon: Trouble ahead
Polls have shown senior figures in the Likud party favour a leadership contest as early as November. The prime minister has been praised by the UN General Assembly for pulling Israel out of the Gaza Strip after a 38-year occupation. But the move, which saw thousands fighting troops to stay in their homes, has split Likud between Sharon loyalists and its ultra-nationalist, settler supporting right. The inevitable leadership race will be a major blow to Mr Sharon's authority. Critising the party he helped found in the 1970s, he said: "It is not secret that I have lost the majority in my party and I am in danger of being ousted and exiled. "The number of extremists and the pressure from outside the party are increasing." Leadership contender Benjamin Netanyahu wants an early vote to take advantage of Likud discontent over Gaza. Attempting to reach out to the right of the party, Sharon said Israel can continue to expand and develop in the West Bank. Mr Netanyahu quit as finance minister in August over the Gaza withdrawal.