Yishai. Headed for government?
United Torah Judaism. Awaiting answers
Photo: Yaron Brenner
The new government's Basic Principles clause dealing with Kadima's plans for further West Bank withdrawals will be "softened" and different than the one agreed upon by Kadima and the Labor party, ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and United Torah Judaism say.
Shas leader Eli Yishai is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Sunday in a bid to finalize a deal that would see the religious Sephardic party join the government. According to senior Shas officials, a positive conclusion to negotiations is possible only after the two leaders meet.
On the diplomatic front, Shas wants Olmert's so-called "convergence plan" for further withdrawals to be less prominently featured in the government Basic Principles document. The party also wants the clause dealing with reducing settlements in the West Bank to be left out of the agreement between Shas and Kadima.
'We can't accept convergence clause
According to a senior Shas figure, "the wording in the agreement with Shas will not be the same as the wording in the coalition agreement between Kadima and the Labor party. The issue of convergence will be featured less prominently and be softened."
Elsewhere, a United Torah Judaism official said the party would not be able to accept the clause dealing with convergence, and added that "they promised us the wording would be softened, exactly as Kadima is doing with Shas.
Meanwhile, Shas officials said that a nighttime meeting between Yishai and Olmert's senior advisor saw no progress in matters still under dispute. Talks between the sides focused on several issues, mainly Shas' desire to be awarded control of the Israel Land Authority, the boosting of child allowances, Olmert's diplomatic plans, and the question of Israelis unable to get married under current laws. Shas also demanded a fourth ministerial post on top of the three it already received.
Olmert's associates apparently attempted to convince Yishai to renounce his demand for the Israel Land Authority in exchange for a fourth minister.