Bush, Olmert kiss up to Shas, Israel Beiteinu

Shas spiritual leader says Abbas has no control in territories, Yishai: Don't discuss core issues.

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef 224.8 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef 224.8
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and US President George W. Bush took steps to maintain Olmert's coalition on Wednesday by flattering Shas chairman Eli Yishai and Israel Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman. In his press conference with Bush, Olmert was asked about Lieberman's threats to leave the government. He responded by praising Lieberman and his party. "I hope all the coalition partners stay," Olmert said. "I don't want a political crisis. This government has many achievements, and Israel Beiteinu is part of that. I want them to stay. We have more in common than what divides us." Kadima sources revealed that Olmert had spoken to Lieberman before he announced on Tuesday that the core issues of the conflict would be negotiated. Lieberman gave Olmert the impression that he could remain in the coalition as long as no subcommittees were formed with the express purpose of dealing with the core issues. Olmert and Lieberman will meet at the beginning of next week ahead of a decision by the Israel Beiteinu secretariat on Tuesday regarding whether to remain in the coalition. When Olmert introduced Bush to Yishai on the tarmac at Ben-Gurion Airport, Bush surprised the Shas leader by saying he was looking forward to talking with him at a working dinner set for Thursday night, which Olmert and Lieberman will also attend. "I understand that during our dinner tomorrow, I'm supposed to have a long and intensive conversation with you to persuade you not to leave the government," Bush told Yishai. Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef told Yishai on Wednesday morning that Israel should not negotiate with the Palestinians, because Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has no control in the Palestinian territories. "Of what use are talks when Kassams continue to land in Sderot and when Israelis are killed by Palestinian security forces in Judea and Samaria?" asked Yosef, adding that "no one is authorized to discuss concessions on Jerusalem."