Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's ruling Likud party gave him a slap in the face, voting for a national referendum on his plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and dismantle 21 settlements there this summer. Sharon refused. “I’ve never caved into threats,” Sharon told the heckling, booing crowd at the gathering of the Likud Central Committee. “The cabinet and parliament made decisions [to approve the Gaza pullout] and these decisions will be carried out. I will not allow extreme fringes to dictate the way forward.” Shootouts in the Likud are commonplace since Sharon reversed coarse and decided to withdraw from Gaza. It's an ironic twist--Sharon, who once Israel's leading hawk, is now the defiant dove in his own party. But he isn't worried; he's simply ignored every Likud vote against the Gaza pullout.
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