Yishai: Elections possible by November

Shas chairman says he doubts gov't will last long; Barak: People must take personal responsibility.

Yishai 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Yishai 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Statements by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's two key allies in the coalition on Thursday continued to threaten the government's stability. "I don't know how long this government will last," Vice Premier and Shas Chairman Eli Yishai said Thursday at a meeting of party activists in Tiberias. "I estimate that elections will be held soon, perhaps even before the elections for the local municipalities [in November]." Yishai reminded activists that the party's Council of Torah Sages had ruled that it would not remain in the coalition if negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians address the issue of Jerusalem. Meanwhile, Defense Minister and Labor Chairman Ehud Barak continued to indirectly criticize Olmert, despite his decision to remain in the government following the publication of the final Winograd Committee report. "At the end of the day we want people to take personal responsibility," Barak said during a Labor convention Thursday evening. "Norms of government behavior are important for the state," he said. After his decision to remain in the government was much contested by members of his own party, most vocal among them being MKs Ophir Paz-Pines, Shelly Yacimovich and DannyYatom, Barak on Sunday claimed personal sacrifice in his decision: "I stay in the government despite the fact that I might pay a political price for it ... the Winograd report is a harsh report and calls for difficult conclusions," he said then. Sources in the Prime Minister's Office later hinted that those comments were inappropriate in light of his decision to stay in the coalition.