Barak Eyes National Unity Government if Peace with Palestinians not Achieved
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak raised the possibility Thursday of forming a government with the right-wing opposition if he finds it impossible to strike a peace deal with the Palestinians.
"If it is impossible to reach such an accord, we must contemplate a broad government whose task will be to achieve a social and civil program," Barak told Israeli public radio.
However, he said he understood the reluctance of Ariel Sharon, the leader of the biggest opposition party the right-wing Likud, to agree to join a government when the outcome of the peace process was not clear.
Barak has been without a majority in parliament since a mass defection by right wing and religious parties last month in protest at his peace policies and the holding of the Camp David summit with the Palestinians.
Last week, Barak announced plans for a "secular revolution" with the adoption of a constitution, education reform, national service for all and improved women's rights -- a program that sets him on a collision course with the powerful religious community.
"I call on all political factions to cooperate to promote my program of civil revolution," Barak said, adding: "I am sure that Ariel Sharon will weight the pros and the cons."
Asked if Sharon could become foreign minister in such a unity government, Barak said: "I respect Sharon, and he has already served as foreign minister."
Sharon, who was foreign minister in the latter months of the previous right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu, has repeatedly ruled out joining a national unity government, instead plotting the downfall of Barak.
In August, parliament backed on preliminary reading a Likud bill calling for early elections but the 120-member is on its summer recess until late October - OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)