Shas threatens to bolt over child welfare

Shas spiritual mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef instructed party chairman Eli Yishai to leave the coalition if the Finance Ministry does not agree to raise child welfare payments. Yishai relayed the threat to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert when they met on Monday to settle their differences over Olmert's desire to appoint a new tourism minister from Kadima and a new Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chair from Labor. Shas has demanded the raise in child welfare payments instead of another cabinet position or deputy minister post. Finance Minister Roni Bar-On asked to meet with Yosef late Monday due to the threat, which a Shas official said was a greater risk to the government's future than negotiations over the fate of the Golan Heights and Jerusalem.