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Home >> World
UPDATED: 09:58, September 23, 2005
Israeli Defense Minister accuses Netanyahu of destroying Likud
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Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz on Thursday sharply criticized former finance minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying his plan to move up the date of the Likud party leadership elections could destroy the party, local newspaper Haaretz reported on its online edition.

"The economic policies of the last few years, brought forth by Benjamin Netanyahu, succeeded in damaging the Likud," Mofaz told Likud activists. "The poverty, the rift in the party and the blows to the poorer classes -- these struck every corner and thousands of voters of the Likud."

If the date of the primaries is moved up -- as Netanyahu wants and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon opposes -- the Likud would be destroyed, said Mofaz.

A Dialog poll conducted for Haaretz indicated that Netanyahu had a slight lead over Sharon in the debate over the Likud primaries date.

Earlier on Thursday, Netanyahu accused Sharon of turning Likud into a left-wing party with the implementation of the disengagement from Gaza.

Netanyahu's criticism came a day after Sharon angrily rejected an ultimatum demanding his unconditional allegiance to Likud. The ultimatum came from Agriculture Minister Yisrael Katz and Likud whip Gideon Sa'ar, who said that if Sharon did not declare that he would remain in Likud under any circumstances, they would vote in favor of bringing forward the party primaries.

Sharon said on Wednesday that a meeting of the ruling Likud party's central committee next week to vote on whether to advance party primaries was an attempt to overthrow him as party leader.

Source: Xinhua

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