In their first open row, hawkish Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon clashed with dovish Foreign Minister Shimon Peres at a stormy cabinet meeting Sunday to discuss the US-brokered ceasefire and the Mitchell commission report, said Israel Radio.
An incensed Peres told Sharon at the meeting that the Labor-Likud national unity government meant there were two points of view and that he was not prepared to "take orders" from the prime minister like some low-level government clerk, according to the radio, cited by Haaretz newspaper.
The confrontation came against the backdrop of differences over the Tenet ceasefire document and implementation of the Mitchell report.
Peres also appeared to be incensed by Sharon’s refusal to hold a three-way meeting between Peres, Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and UN Secretary General Kofi Anna.
Israel Radio also quoted Peres as saying that the “national unity government cannot survive if the prime minister acts unilaterally."
Peres apparently also criticized the Israeli closures of Palestinian territories, and Sharon's own attacks on Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.
Sharon countered, saying that every meeting with Arafat only allowed the Palestinian president to ridicule Israel, and that Arafat was trying to push Israel into negotiating under fire, said the radio.
Meanwhile, right-wing ministers, incensed by what they viewed as Peres’ defense of the Palestinians, lashed out at the foreign minister.
Environment Minister Tzachi Nanegbi (Likud) told Peres that Sharon was the one who had been elected prime minister and not him.
Shas leader and Interior Minister Eli Yishai said Arafat was exploiting Peres’ "fairness" and wanted to shatter the unity government, the radio report added - Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )