As the negotiations on the establishment of a new coalition under the leadership of newly elected Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni are gaining momentum, Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman criticized the religious Shas party for its apparent intent to be a part of the government.
"Their (Shas and Kadima) only common denominator is fear of general elections, and they are clinging to their posts," he told Ynet on Thursday, adding that Shas was headed toward 'political suicide'.
Lieberman estimated that should Shas join the coalition, it would lose many mandates in the next elections to the Likud party.
He said that Shas activists have expressed their disappointment with the party's direction. "From what I am feeling on the ground, Shas has already lost two-three mandates to Likud for sitting in (Prime Minister Ehud) Olmert's government. If they'll join Livni, and Meretz-Yahad joins as well, I believe they'll lose another three mandates.
"I'm willing to bet that in the next elections Shas receives only seven or eight mandates," Lieberman said.
The Yisrael Beiteinu leader also accused Labor Chairman Ehud Barak of avoiding general elections. "The only thing that guides these people is fear of the voter's verdict, not the good of the country or national responsibility. Labor is joining the government without any preconditions.
"If such a government (under Livni) be formed, it will not be a result of a democratic process, but rather a result of a shady political deal – but the public will eventually make its voice heard in the next elections," he told Ynet. "These parties will pay for their shady deals at the polling stations.