Prime Minister Ariel Sharon faces a showdown in his ruling Likud party today. The hawkish Likud Central Committee is unhappy with Sharon's plan to pull out of the Gaza Strip this summer and dismantle 21 Jewish settlements there. So the Likud is expected to vote that he put the plan to a national referendum. Likud activist Mordechai Talb says Sharon isn't even putting up a fight “because he knows that he'll lose.” But Sharon isn't worried. He has ignored every other Likud decision against the Gaza plan, and in the Knesset (parliament) where it really counts, there's no majority for a referendum. Sharon says a referendum is a tactic by his opponents to delay the Gaza pullout for many months.
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