Israeli Labor Party to Choose its Ministers in Sharon’s Government Friday
Israel's Labor party will meet Friday to choose its ministers in Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon's nascent government of national unity, reported AFP, citing Israel Radio Wednesday.
Some 1,700 members of the party central committee will choose, via secret ballot, the next holders of three key ministries allotted to Labor.
Defense, foreign affairs and agriculture portfolios will be given to the party, said AFP.
The party will also choose from a list of candidates to fill five other more minor government posts, said the agency, adding that Sharon's final cabinet will include thirty ministers.
The former ruling party agreed Monday to join Sharon's right-wing Likud party in a government of national unity along with far-right and religious groupings.
But the Haaretz newspaper reported Wednesday that Sharon was facing a series of ultimatums from the religious and right-wing parties as he tried to piece together a unity government.
After reports emerged Tuesday night that Sharon had promised the interior ministry to the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, the immigrant Yisrael b’Aliyah party, which wants the powerful ministry, said it would not join the coalition, Haaretz reported.
Shas MKs claimed Tuesday night that the interior ministry was "in its pocket," along with the labor, social affairs ministry and the health ministry, in addition to two other portfolios still to be determined. But a flurry of phone calls ended with the Likud telling Natan Sharansky, leader of Yisrael b'Aliyah, that Shas has not yet received a written commitment for the interior portfolio.
The Russian party has said that while it would like the interior portfolio itself, what it insists on is that Shas not get it.
Thus one possible solution is for the Likud to keep control of the interior ministry, the paper said.
Another possible solution, giving Sharansky the education ministry, could undermine Sharon's support from his own party, since throughout the election campaign, he promised that Likud would keep the education portfolio.
Giving Sharansky education is also likely to spark problems with the National Religious party, which has its eye on the education portfolio, Haaretz added.
According to the paper, Likud members were also beginning to mutter in dissatisfaction over the fact that Sharon was handing out ministries to potential coalition partners and that they would be left with the crumbs – Albawaba.com
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