Kadima, Labor sign coalition agreement
After three weeks of tiring negotiations with expected outcome, Labor Kadima sign coalition agreement; Labor will be given Defense, Education, Infrastructure, Tourism and Agriculture Ministries and two of its MKs will be ministers-without-portfolios. senior Kadima sources say deal with Shas finalized as well
Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Labor leader Amir Peretz met Thursday to finalize the deal that was signed between the heads of the parties' negotiation teams.
Labor will be given the Defense, Education, Infrastructure, Tourism and Agriculture Ministries and two of its MKs will be ministers-without-portfolios. One of these ministers will oversee Jerusalem affairs and the other will oversee the Broadcasting Authority.
Labor rep Libai (right) and Kadima counterpart Turbowicz. (Photo: Eli Elgarat)
Kadima gave in to a Labor election promise of raising the minimum wage to USD 1000 by agreeing that the new figure will be a "target" of the new government. Between July of this year and the end of 2007, the minimum wage will be gradually raised by NIS 500 (USD 110).
Meretz to sneak in?
Peretz can give himself a lot of credit, but the big fight lies ahead: On Sunday he is expected to ask Labor’s Central Committee to approve the agreement. Party members will decide which MKs will fill the ministerial positions secured by the party. The Committee will decide whether Peretz has the right to select his ministerial teams or whether ministers for the available posts should be voted by party members.
Off the record, Peretz has been harshly criticized. Party members said Olmert did offer Peretz the Finance Ministry but "he was scared of failure."
Kadima rejected these claims, citing that Olmert made it clear from the beginning that his party will hold on to the Treasury.
As Labor and the Pensioners secure their place in the next government, it remains to be seen which other factions will be coalition partners. United Torah Judaism, Israel Our Home and Shas are the main contenders. Israel Our Home broadcast messages Thursday hinting it is likely to be in the opposition, which might clear the way for leftist Meretz to sneak in.
Meanwhile, senior Kadima sources told Ynet that a deal bringing Shas to the coalition has been finalized as well.