Labor pleased with Kadima outline

Parties divided on min. wage; undecided over convergence plan borders.

The head of the Labor Party's coalition negotiation team, Professor David Liba'i, said that his party was satisfied with Kadima's overall government outline, which was presented to the Labor negotiators Sunday morning. However, according to Prof. Liba'i, the two parties were still divided on the issue of minimum wage. Regarding Interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's convergence plan, Liba'i said that neither the final borders nor the compensation which would be offered to evacuated settlers had been decided on. Negotiations on building Olmert's coalition were expected to continue Sunday, with Kadima representatives meeting delegations from Shas and United Torah Judaism at Ramat Gan's Kfar Hamaccabiah Hotel. Talks with Labor that had been set for Sunday were moved to Monday morning to allow Kadima legal adviser Eitan Haberman to complete a rough draft of a coalition agreement that will be given first to Labor and then to other parties for approval. The heads of the Kadima and Labor negotiating teams, Yoram Turbowitz and David Liba'i, spoke by phone over the weekend to work out final details. "The parts of the agreement that still need to be worked out are the most complicated ones but there is nothing that cannot be overcome," Haberman said. "The reason it has taken so long is that the holidays took away time and the issues are still many and varied. It takes time for each and every issue but we will get it all done," he said. A Labor spokeswoman said that as soon as the party's representatives received the rough draft, they would demand specific changes. Once final agreements are reached between the parties on the coalition guidelines, talks will begin over the tricky issue of ministerial portfolios. Kadima hopes to retain the Finance, Education and Interior portfolios that are being demanded by other parties. Shas, for instance, has denied reports that it would be willing to give up its demand for the Interior Ministry in return for control over the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor. Olmert wants to give the Internal Security portfolio to Israel Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman, but the Movement for Quality Government called on Attorney- General Menahem Mazuz over the weekend to block the appointment. The organization said Lieberman should be barred from receiving the post because of an ongoing police investigation against him from eight years ago involving alleged corruption and illegal business dealings. The case has moved from the police to the State Attorney's Office, which will decide whether it has any basis. Mazuz is expected to decide soon whether Lieberman can receive the portfolio. He forced Minister without Portfolio Tzahi Hanegbi to give up that same position when the police started investigating him.