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Friday, June 04, 2004

Sharon fires Elon and Lieberman

A combination picture shows May 2004 file pictures of Israeli
National Union ministers Benny Elon (R) and Avigdor Lieberman
in Jerusalem. (Gil Cohen Magen/Reuters)
Jerusalem Post: Cabinet secretary Yisrael Maimon spoke Friday morning with all Israeli Cabinet ministers, informing them of prime minister Ariel Sharon's decision to dismiss Transportation Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Tourism Minister Benny Elon.

Once all the ministers were informed, as is demanded by Israeli law, messengers were sent to Elon and Lieberman's homes with their letters of dismissal. "According to the protocols of the law I have decided to relieve you of your post, as is my right as prime minister," the terse letters said. Lieberman received his dismissal letter while working out at a gym near Jerusalem. Elon was not at home a the time the messenger arrived, and has not yet received his notice.

Elon told Israel Radio he would do all he could to avoid receiving it. He claimed he would not accept a phone notification, since he could not be certain it was in fact the Prime Minister speaking to him and not "Yatzpan" (a popular comedian famous for his impersonations of Israeli politicians).

"I will do all I can to prevent this irresponsible act and fight against the disengagement," Elon said. I will do everything I can to make sure that there won't be a majority in the Cabinet vote on Sunday.

Elon said he spoke with the Prime Minister on the phone. "He called me, and I told him that by law he cannot fire me over the phone. I got a call on my cellular phone, and the voice was similar to that of Arik Sharon. But on the assumption that it was not Yatzpan, I told him everything that was needed to be said about his behavior. I told him that I can't be sure if it really is the prime minister or if it is Yatzpan on the other end of the line. But just in case you're not Yatzpan, I have to tell you that I didn't expect you to end your glorious career by imposing an artificial majority. I think we have arrived at a somewhat demeaning situation," Elon said.