Monday, September 15, 2008

Yishai: Shas won't join gov't that negotiates on J'lem


And elephants fly, and fish can waltz, and there is a troll living under every bridge . . .

Pleeeeeze, Shas weenies! Tell us another story! Tell us another story! We love make-believe!

Sep 14, 2008 22:23 | Updated Sep 15, 2008 7:55

Shas will not join a government that is willing to negotiate with the Palestinians on changing the status of Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel, the party's chairman, Eli Yishai, announced over the weekend.

"Jerusalem is not part of the talks whatsoever, not now, not in the future and not ever," Yishai said. "Shas will not join a government that does not declare that Jerusalem is not on the diplomatic agenda and is not to be included in negotiations."

He made the comments in an interview with Ma'ariv that appeared on Sunday and were confirmed by his spokesman Roi Lachmanovitch.

Until now, Shas was willing to remain in a government that postponed negotiations over the status of Jerusalem to a future date. Now Yishai has decided to harden the party's position.

The decision to clarify Shas's stance on Jerusalem comes just before Kadima prepares to choose a new chairman to replace Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who has been politically paralyzed by corruption allegations.

The new Shas demand joins its longstanding call for an increase in child allowances.

Without Shas it is highly unlikely that the next Kadima chairman could put together a government.

Should Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni be elected as Kadima's new leader, Shas would find it difficult to reach an agreement with her on either of its two demands.

Livni has already announced that Finance Minister Ronnie Bar On, who is strongly opposed to increasing child allowances, would continue in her government.

Livni has also stated that she supports moving ahead on negotiations with the Palestinian Authority on all tracks.

Yishai might have more success reaching an agreement with Livni's leading rival for the Kadima leadership, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz.

Yishai's announcement on Jerusalem was seen by a source close to Shas as a move to appeal to Shas's traditionally right-wing constituency.

"Yishai wants to bite into the Likud's voters and take away Bibi's [Binyamin Netanyahu's] role as the leader of the rational right wing," the source said.

Sources in Shas rejected the idea that Yishai's comments were part of a larger strategy to bring about an early general election by making it impossible for Shas to sit in a Kadima-led coalition.

The sources also denied that Yishai was positioning himself to the right to distinguish himself from former Shas head Aryeh Deri, who recently announced a political comeback, should there be a showdown for control of Shas.

Under Deri, Shas abstained in the Knesset vote on the Oslo Accords, thus allowing them to pass.

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