Pensioners meet Kadima reps., express anger over claims of inflated demands.
By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
Coalition talks continued on Monday with UTJ saying that it appeared Kadima wanted the ultra-Orthodox party in the coalition.
"Based on what we heard from Kadima I think the negotiations will advance quickly," said MK Moshe Gafni. "I don't think we will be conducting intensive consultations during Passover, but we don't have too many demands and I believe we can finish this quickly. We will check with our rabbis; I don't know who Kadima's rabbis are," he added.
Gafni was joined by UTJ MKs Ya'akov Litzman and Meir Porush; both raised several demands pertaining to socioeconomic issues and matters of religion and state, including restoring welfare payments and funding for haredi schools.
Head of Kadima's negotiation team Yoram Turbowitz said that Olmert had a history of good relations with the haredi community and that he expected those relations to continue.
The Gil Pensioners Party also arrived for talks and at the start of negotiations party representative Elie Goldschmidt reacted with fury to statements made recently by Kadima officials that the pensioners' demands were exaggerated. "There is a difference between a party making sectarian demands for their own constituents and our demands which help people of all ages," said Goldschmidt.
"Now that they have seven seats the pensioners' needs must be taken into account," added the former MK.
After the talks Goldshmidt expressed satisfaction. "The main demand of the seniors was restoring what was cut from welfare payments to senior citizens." He said that the pensioners would ask for two portfolios plus chairmanship of a major Knesset committee.
Kadima will also be conducting coalition talks with Meretz later on Monday.
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