Faction leaves Olmert coalition over negotiations with Palestinians
A far right faction in Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's coalition pulled out of the government on Wednesday, weakening him over his attempts to reach a peace deal with the Palestinians by the end of the year. The withdrawal of Yisrael Beiteinu's 11 lawmakers from the government leaves Olmert with a majority of 67 in the 120-seat parliament.
"Negotiations on the basis of land for peace is a fatal mistake," Avigdor Lieberman, head of the faction, told a news conference.
Lieberman's move came just days after Palestinian and Israeli negotiators started tackling the core issues of their conflict - final borders, sovereignty over Jerusalem, and the fate of Palestinian refugees.
"If we pull back to the 1967 borders, everyone should ask himself, what will happen the following day," Lieberman said, according to the AP. "Will the conflict stop, will the terror stop? Nothing will change."
Olmert had tried to persuade Lieberman to stay in the government in a meeting with him on Tuesday. But Yisrael Beiteinu decided in a meeting Wednesday to leave, Lieberman said. "Nothing will come of these negotiations," he declared.