Likud-Labor Coalition Talks End Monday with Slimmer Chances of Success
Israeli Likud and Labor officials ended talks Monday with less hope for a national unity government suggested by Prime Minister–elect Ariel Sharon, reported Radio Israel.
The radio said that “contrary to yesterday, the feeling today is that the chances for unity government are diminishing.”
Earlier in the day, sources told Haaretz newspaper that Israel's labor party will not join a unity coalition with the right-wing Likud party unless Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon agrees on the establishment of a Palestinian state and dismantling Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. But Likud officials said that Sharon does not intend to announce in advance the concessions he is willing to make in future negotiations with the Palestinians, said the paper.
The two sides resumed Monday negotiations on forging a unity coalition, said the paper, adding that Labor's demands were presented during Sunday's talks.
Sharon said Sunday he was certain he could form a coalition with the Labor.
"I am sure there will be a national unity government," said Sharon, who must pull together a workable coalition by March 31st, the deadline for parliament to pass the 2001 state budget.
Meanwhile, The Jerusalem Post newspaper reported that senior Likud members leveled harsh criticism at the negotiating team appointed by Sharon, warning of an "upcoming blow-up" among the Likud top brass, after it becomes known how few portfolios the prime minister-elect plans to hand out to Likud.
"Two of the three most important portfolios have been promised to Labor, which has also been promised the same number of portfolios as the Likud," a senior Likud source told the Post.
"United Torah Judaism, a party with five seats, has already gotten the Knesset Finance Committee chairmanship and a deputy minister, serving as minister. What will Shas get with their 17 mandates? Ultimately we will be left with nothing. If Sharon thinks this is going to pass quietly because of his 65 percent landslide, he's making a big mistake," the source said.
The national unity government is expected to comprise 24 ministers.
The tension in the Likud has reached a high point because of the possibility that in a national unity government, the Likud will have only seven portfolios, added the paper - Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)