The Israeli ultra-orthodox Shas party issued an ultimatum Monday to Prime Minister Ehud Barak, warning him that unless he sponsors legislation enabling former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to run for premiership, then it [Shas] will add its votes to opposition bid to disband the Knesset, according to Haaretz newspaper.
The paper said that Shas lawmakers back a special bill to allow Netanyahu to run for the premiership.
Netanyahu launched intensive lobbying effort for dissolving the Knesset, and met with Shas party leader Eli Yishai to discuss the issue, the paper added.
Dissolution of the Knesset is vital to Netanyahu's announced candidacy, otherwise only members of the Knesset can run for premiership.
He announced Sunday that he was presenting his candidacy for Likud leader and for prime minister.
Netanyahu told a press conference in Jerusalem that Ehud Barak's decision to resign was probably "the most cynical trick in Israeli political history," according to The Jerusalem Post newspaper.
Barak's failure, he said, should have led him to step down completely.
Barak resigned Friday, allowing early elections within 60 days.
Netanyahu said he was capable of returning Israelis' pride, security and confidence. He would provide the alternative to the Oslo process, he pledged.
Netanyahu said he would lead Israel to a "realistic" goal - "a cold peace" with its neighbors.
Under Israel's complex election law, Netanyahu cannot join the race for prime minister as it is only open to current members of the Knesset, which he quit after his crushing election defeat to Barak in May 1999.
Netanyahu is streets ahead in opinion polls that show he would easily beat Sharon for the Likud leadership and win any rematch with Barak, whose 17-month-old government has been brought to its knees by the violence, according to AFP -- (Several Sources)
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