Can a Likud Party Vote Prevent a Palestinian State?

Israel’s dominant Likud Party voted today to pass a resolution opposing the establishment of a Palestinian state, defying party leader Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Does the Likud vote force Sharon to do anything?

Not really. The Likud Central Committee’s near-unanimous vote does not represent the Israeli government’s official position. The 2,600-member Central Committee resembles the Democratic or Republican National Committees. It determines the Likud platform, but it doesn’t have the power to oust Sharon or force his hand.

However, the vote does have political ramifications. It marked a major defeat for Sharon, who has publicly said that Palestinians should be given a state under certain limited circumstances, and this is an indication of his waning popularity within the party.

Sharon was elected in February 2001 and is eligible for re-election in November 2003. Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who spearheaded the Likud vote against Palestinian statehood, has promised to challenge Sharon for the office next year.

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Explainer thanks Eva Bellin, associate professor of government at Harvard University.