Israeli Prime Minister Briefs Coalition Partners amid New Threats to Quit
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak briefed his coalition partners for five hours Tuesday on the peace talks with the Palestinians amid new threats to his government ahead of a planned summit aimed at brokering an accord.
No details of the meeting were immediately available afterwards.
"The chances of our staying in the coalition if there is a summit are slim," Yitzhak Levy, head of the right-wing National Religious Party (NRP) had told Israeli public radio before seeing Barak.
"The NRP will not be able to stay if there is a summit," he warned. "If the guidelines for the summit are not coordinated with us, we will quit."
Barak's briefing concerned the Israeli negotiating position ahead of the planned summit with Palestinian president Yasser Arafat and US President Bill Clinton.
A diplomatic source told AFP that US Middle East envoy Dennis Ross would also be at the briefing, held before the arrival of US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright later Tuesday to assess the viability of a summit.
Pressure has been building in recent days from right-wing parties in the coalition afraid that Barak is prepared to go on concessions towards the Palestinians.
The right is particularly concerned about the fate of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and the erosion of Israel's biblical borders.
"If we are not satisfied by the answers we get from the prime minister, I will recommend that we leave the coalition," Levy said.
Asked whether Levy was coordinating with Interior Minister Nathan Sharansky, the head of the Russian immigrant party Israel B'Alia, the NRP leader said "it is possible that we will quit together."
Sharansky hinted Monday that his party will leave Barak's government if the prime minister crosses certain "red lines" in his concessions to Palestinians - OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (AFP)
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