Yishai says he may 'shake up' coalition over social issues

Labor party decides against lobbying effort to topple Netanyahu government until after September primary elections.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN, JPOST.COM STAFF
August 11, 2011 15:43
3 minute read.
Interior Minister Eli Yishai

Eli Yishai 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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Interior Minister Eli Yishai warned on Thursday that he could remove his Shas Party from the coalition if steps are not taken soon to solve the country's socioeconomic problems.

Speaking at a conference in Yokneam, Yishai said that if solutions will not be found to the crises over the cost of living, price rises in water and electricity and the housing shortage, he is ready to "shake up the coalition." A source close to Yishai said the threat did not need to be taken too seriously.

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Kadima MK Shaul Mofaz called on Yishai to follow through on his threat and leave Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's government.

"Shas holds a central position in the stability of Netanyahu's evil coalition. The understanding that Netanyahu's government is leading Israel to negative places and does not have the ability to change the situation and to make the lives of the people better is beginning to trickle into the consciousness of coalition members," Mofaz stated.

Mofaz praised Yishai for his statement and called on him to "bring an end to the evil and disconnected Netanyahu government."

The Labor Party's governing secretariat decided Thursday not to endorse a proposal by MK Amir Peretz to start taking operative steps to persuade Shas and other coalition parties to overthrow Netanyahu.

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Peretz proposed that the eight Labor MKs submit a bill calling for dispersing the Knesset and initiating elections and that they start lobbying both opposition and coalition MKs to support it. He even suggested making deals with parties in which Labor would back bills they wouldn't normally support in return for votes for dispersing the Knesset.

"Shas needs to be put to a test," Peretz said. "Shas can't say it is a socioeconomic party while it continues to sit in this government."

But interim Labor chairman Micha Harish and MK Binyamin Ben-Eliezer expressed opposition to the move, saying that the party should wait until after the September 12 party primary before beginning the effort. Ben-Eliezer said that only Labor's new leader could take such a step.

MK Isaac Herzog supported his fellow candidate Peretz but MK Shelly Yacimovich, who is also a candidate, remained silent.

Harish and Labor secretary-general Hilik Bar criticized the five Labor candidates at the meeting for submitting some 11,000 appeals on the party's membership rolls. Harish and Bar said they were against delaying the primary, but they asked the candidates to do everything possible to limit appeals that could leave them with no choice but the postpone the race.

"Everyone must behave responsibly and avoid action that could lead to a delay," Bar said. "Postponing the primary would harm the party morally, publicly, and politically. The public is waiting for the party to return to being a central player on both socioeconomic and diplomatic-security issues."

Venture capitalist Erel Margalit, who is also a candidate, called for delaying the race and holding a new membership drive. He said he would draft signatures from Labor executive committee members to initiate a vote on the matter.

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