Chairman Eli Yishai said Thursday that general elections may be held as early as this year. Speaking at a convention in northern Israel, Yishai said: "I don't know how long this government will last. I estimate that soon we will have elections."
Yishai stressed that Shas' spiritual leaders ruled that the party will not stay in the government for even one day should negotiations with the Palestinians on the future of Jerusalem get underway. Yishai called on party representatives present at the convention to prepare for local authority elections in November, and said that the general elections may be held even before that.
In light of frozen construction activity in West Bank settlements and in Jerusalem neighborhoods such as Pisgat Ze'ev, Yishai recently turned to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and asked for clarifications on the matter.
On Monday, Shas faction members are expected to tour Jerusalem and signal to PM Olmert that they are serious about their declarations and objections in regards to the handing over of Jerusalem neighborhoods to the Palestinian Authority in the framework of the diplomatic process.
Meanwhile, Defense Minister Ehud Barak has still not decided on his preferred general elections date. Barak, who earlier this week announced that he will not be quitting the government over the Winograd Commission's report, said that he will make a decision regarding an elections date soon. The Labor leader claimed such move would "unite the Labor faction."