Israel's Likud and Labor Move ahead to Unity Government

Published February 13th, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

Israel's Likud and Labor parties reached an agreement Monday on the future of peace talks with the Palestinians, clearing the main obstacle blocking a national unity government, according to reports. 

Following a meeting in Tel Aviv between Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon's Likud and defeated premier Ehud Barak's Labor, the third such meeting since last Tuesday's election, the parties agreed to "work for peace" by reaching interim accords with the Palestinians rather than a comprehensive agreement, the Israeli radio said, quoted by AFP. 

"This is great progress," said Labor MP Dalia Itzik, environment minister in Barak's cabinet. 

"But this does not mean there aren't other issues that will lead to new crises," she told public radio. 

Earlier Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert, a member of the Likud team negotiating with Labor, said: "At least one point of agreement, that's that it's clear to the two parties we are not looking to reach a final agreement but an interim accord." 

Haaretz said Tuesday that the progress was achieved despite a brief crisis that erupted Monday afternoon. Israeli radio had reported that difficulties were still there at the end of the afternoon meeting. 

According to the daily, a breakthrough was achieved by Interior Minister Haim Ramon and Gideon Sa'ar, who is expected to be Sharon's cabinet secretary. The two drafted a very general outline of the diplomatic guidelines a unity government would follow. 


Following is the draft agreement as published by Haaretz:  


1. Israel will honor previous diplomatic agreements approved by the Knesset, as long as they are also honored by the other side. 


2. Israel will seek permanent agreements with the Syrians, the Palestinians and the Lebanese on the basis of UN resolutions 242 and 338. 


3. Israel will work to advance peace with the Palestinian Authority through interim agreements. 


4. Achieving peace will require painful compromises by both sides. 


5. Within the framework of the interim agreements, [Israel] will examine the possibility of a redeployment in the territories of Judea, Samaria and Gaza. 


6. No new settlements will be established. 


7. Strengthening existing settlements will be done on the basis of their natural growth. 


8. The government will supply an answer for the settlements' ongoing needs. 


According to media reports, Israeli President Moshe Katsav threw his support behind a unity government Tuesday night. Interviewed on Channel One television, he urged Barak to join a unity government as defense minister. "There is no room for personal or political considerations," he said. "There is one issue at stake here: the national consideration." Barak's office responded that he has not altered his plans to take a leave of absence from politics, but his associates admitted privately he finds Sharon's offer very tempting, and may still change his mind – 


© 2001 Al Bawaba (

© 2000 - 2021 Al Bawaba (

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