Party representing Jewish settlers joins Sharon coalition, Labor stays out
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon signed a coalition agreement with a hardline party representing Jewish settlers.
National Religious Party (NRP) leader, Effi Eitam, told army radio on Sunday that Sharon's right-wing Likud party agreed that Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip "will be enlarged to accommodate the natural growth of their population."
That deal torpedoed Labour participation in the government, as the party's dovish leader Amram Mitzna has vowed never to join a Sharon government unless the hardline premier agreed to evacuate Gaza settlements and scale back those in the West Bank.
Labour deputy Avraham Burg said that in signing a deal with the NRP, "it is the real Sharon who has emerged, the one who wants to continue expanding the settlements."
The Labour leadership met Sunday afternoon and Mitzna said that his party would not open negotiations with the Likud to join the government.
"Conditions were not created for the Labor Party to open negotiations with the Likud," and therefore the party will remain in the opposition, Mitzna said.
On his part, Eitam said that the program of the future government set out in the agreement "does not mention the creation of a Palestinian state, nor the roadmap, nor the (peace) plan of US President George W. Bush." (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)