Likud rules out unity gov't proposal

Likud: We are only interested in bringing an end to the current sham of Olmert's government.

netanyahu bibi 224 88 (photo credit: )
netanyahu bibi 224 88
(photo credit: )
The Likud Party promptly rejected a call by Shas Party Chairman Eli Yishai Monday evening to form an emergency national unity government, calling the offer "completely out of the question." "The Likud Party has no faith in this government or in this prime minister. We are not interested in seats in the cabinet, or in any other gain. We are only interesting in bringing an end to the current sham of [Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert's government," said a Likud Party spokesman. Yishai, who recently met with Likud Party Leader Binyamin Netanyahu for the first time in years, said he wished to discuss a national unity government due to the ongoing violence in the South. "This is a battle for existence. The northern front [Iran and Hizbullah] is not calming down. The diplomatic option is not realistic and is not being considered. I will act to bring about the formation of an emergency national government in order to deal with the problems facing all of us, in a practical way. The security situation is complex and difficult," said Yishai. He explained that recent IDF actions in the Gaza Strip, aimed at stopping the escalating rocket fire on southern Israeli towns, would continue, and could last several months. The IDF withdrew from Gaza Monday, ending a five-day operation that left more than 100 Palestinians dead. Rockets, including Iranian-made Grad-style missiles, continued to be launched by terrorists in the Gaza Strip even as the troops pulled out. Shas Party MKs also threatened to vote with opposition parties in a no-confidence motion over Olmert's directive that all construction in east Jerusalem must be authorized by the Prime Minister's Office. Yishai withdrew that threat, however, due to the need for "national unity due to the security situation." Shas Party activists said that their party was "relieved" that the peace talks between Israel and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had been threatened by the ongoing violence in Gaza. "It would not be a bad thing for the party, and for our participation in the coalition, if the talks slowed down," said a Shas Party MK. Right-wing parties Israel Beiteinu and Likud have criticized Shas for remaining in the coalition while Olmert negotiates with the Palestinians for two-state solution. Shas has said that it will support Olmert's negotiations as long as the issue of Jerusalem is not raised. "I don't think that the government has the appropriate answers, as we plainly saw today at Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting, and as the Israeli people see plainly each and every day," said Netanyahu. "It is time for Shas to acknowledge what type of government they are supporting." Five Likud MKs signed a petition Monday calling for Israel to launch a second Operation Defensive Shield in the Gaza Strip - a large-scale ground offensive. MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud) said that the army had to "wipe out the terrorist infrastructure" and redeploy in the area between the Gaza-Egypt border to ensure that terror operatives did not continue to smuggle weapons and other equipment into Gaza from Egypt. Labor Party ministers Ami Ayalon and Yuli Tamir, meanwhile, called for indirect talks with Hamas. They were the only coalition members to issue the call, and their statements were not backed by the rest of the Labor Faction. "Now is not the time to open these talks," said Labor Faction Whip Eitan Cabel.