Israel's Meretz party leader and former education minister, Yossi Sarid, blasted on Sunday prime minister, Ehud Barak, for his handling of the Meretz-Shas crisis which threatened to topple his coalition, reported Haaretz newspaper.
Sarid spoke to a Meretz conference in Tel Aviv, less than 24 hours after the party's resignation from the government came into effect.
Former ministers Yossi Sarid, Ran Cohen and Haim Oron were greeted with applause, said the paper.
The conference had been scheduled before the three ministers stepped down from the government, but Sarid took the opportunity to settle a score with Barak for the way he managed the crisis.
Sarid opened the meeting with a long speech in which he admonished Barak, saying that he was certain elections would be brought forward, very likely to sometime this year, especially if Barak secures an agreement with the Syrians or Palestinians, said the paper.
Sarid said he doubts that Barak's coalition would last very long.
"For Meretz, elections are good. For the public, it isn't good," said Sarid. "We will make every effort to lengthen the life of the government, even though we know that this impossible combination cannot last long."
Sarid did not make any reference to Meretz's possible return to the government, Haaretz added.
He explained that Meretz's unique position as the guardian of good government would have been seriously damaged, had the party decided to give in to Shas's demands.
The Meretz leader has not forgiven Barak for his silence following the curses leveled at him by Shas spiritual leader, Ovadia Yosef, said Haaretz.
"Too many people overlooked this, with the exception of Meretz. The prime minister also overlooked this, thus sending a non-educational message to the public."
Sarid added that he considered withdrawing his party's letters of resignation on Friday night when he heard Barak tell the Labor Party that he did not expect nor did he ask Meretz to step down, according to the paper - Albawaba.com
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)