Likud-Labor Teams Scheduled to Meet Thursday for Unity Government Talks
Negotiations to form an Israeli unity government are scheduled to begin Thursday evening by members of the Likud and Labor parties, reported Haaretz newspaper.
Sharon's strategic adviser, Eyal Arad, told a press conference Wednesday that the "coalition talks will be held in an open fashion, with daily briefings so the public will know what is going on," reported The Jerusalem Post newspaper.
To form a national unity government, said the Post, Sharon will probably have to give labor members the foreign ministry portfolio for Shimon Peres as well as either the defense or treasury portfolios, plus four other portfolios.
Haaretz added that Prime Minister elect Ariel Sharon is also considering joining members of the ultra-orthodox Shas party.
"Sharon will meet this evening with the leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, Eli Yishai," a source said, adding that Shas's 17 Knesset seats will be an essential component in Sharon's future government.
Haaretz quoted Israel Radio as saying that among Shas' conditions for joining a coalition are that they receive the labor, health and religious ministries. The report added that the education minister only be appointed with its permission. Shas is also expected to demand the interior ministry, which it lost when outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Barak formed his government.
Also on Shas' coalition shopping list is the demand that its pirate radio stations be legalized, the report said -- Albawaba.com
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