yishai lieberman 88.
(photo credit: )
Shas and Israel Beiteinu remained content partners in Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's coalition on Tuesday, despite the Kassam rocket that hit the IDF's Zikim base and the lack of a response to the attack.
But Shas leader Eli Yishai and associates of Israel Beiteinu's Avigdor Lieberman did issue threats for the first time regarding the future of their parties in the government. They said that Olmert should be careful not to cross their red lines in his concessions to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas at the November summit in Washington.
Yishai told reporters after the attack that Olmert should delay the meeting because "what is intended to be a peace summit could end up bringing war and not peace." Yishai went further in an interview with the haredi weekly Bakehila, issuing a full-scale threat.
"I can say unequivocally that Shas would not remain in a government that would create a Palestinian state along the Green Line and inside Jerusalem," Yishai said. "Not only would Shas quit the government, but also Israel Beiteinu would not remain, for even a day, in a government that is against everything they believe in."
Opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu and Likud faction chairman Gideon Sa'ar met with Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef on Tuesday morning in an effort to persuade him that Olmert's talks with Abbas were endangering Israel's security.
The timing of the meeting worked out well for Netanyahu, because the attack on Zikim illustrated his point. It was Netanyahu's first meeting with the rabbi since he tried unsuccessfully in June to get Shas to oppose Shimon Peres's candidacy for president.
Netanyahu met with Lieberman last week. But Netanyahu is not anxious for Israel Beiteinu to leave the coalition, because polls have found that when Lieberman entered the government, Israel Beiteinu's non-immigrant voters shifted their support to the Likud.
Lieberman made a point of not giving interviews in the aftermath of the attack. But his associates made it clear that if Olmert violated understandings with him in the November summit, Israel Beiteinu would not remain in the coalition at any price.
In Sunday's cabinet meeting, Israel Beiteinu ministers Lieberman and Yitzhak Aharonovich intended to vote against Olmert's proposal to release Palestinian prisoners as a goodwill gesture in honor of Ramadan.
"What we call a goodwill gesture, they call weakness," Lieberman said Monday. "Instead of us making gestures for Ramadan, they should make a gesture to us for Rosh Hashana by confiscating weapons and arresting terrorists," he added.
Netanyahu has repeatedly denied the possibility that the Likud could enter the government if the security situation intensified. In a meeting with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner Tuesday, Netanyahu told reporters that the Likud could support the government without entering it.
"If the government finally decides, albeit too late, on a ground operation to capture the territory the rockets are being fired from, we will offer our full support," Netanyahu said.