The leader of Israel's right-wing opposition announced Monday that he had rejected a call by Prime Minister Ehud Barak to join a government of national emergency after a deadly anti-Israeli bomb attack in the Gaza Strip.
"The prime minister telephoned me and other opposition party leaders to form a national emergency government, but I rejected this call outright," Likud party chairman Ariel Sharon said.
"It's a trick designed to give the false impression that the prime minister really wants national unity," Sharon told journalists at a Likud protest tent set up near Barak's Jerusalem office.
"Likud will not join an emergency government which does not take much stronger measures against those (the Palestinians) who have created this emergency situation," he added.
Sharon is reviled by the Palestinians for his September 28 visit to the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, a site holy to both Muslims and Jews, that set off the tide of deadly violence across the Palestinian territories.
Negotiations with Sharon aimed at forming a broad government to deal with the violence collapsed last month, but Barak's minority government was saved by a temporary lifeline offered by the ultra-Orthodox Jewish Shas party.
But Shas leader Eli Yishai announced earlier Monday that the party would withdraw its one-month "safety net" next week, leaving Barak vulnerable to censure motions and efforts to call early elections.
Nathan Sharansky, leader of the Russian immigrant party Israel B'Aliya, also said he had rejected a similar call by Barak "while the government is not taking the necessary steps against the terrorists."
Israeli public radio said Barak was reviving efforts to create an emergency government after the Gaza bomb attack, which killed two Israelis, one of them a Jewish woman settler, and injured nine others – JERUSALEM (AFP)
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