In a move that could pave the way for forming a unity government, United Torah Judaism MK Avraham Ravitz said Friday that his party would be welling to join a coalition that includes Shinui party, if convinced that the secular Shinui party indeed changed its approach toward the ultra-Orthodox parties.

So far, UTJ rejected to join a coalition with Shinui, even after Shinui leaders expressed readiness to sit with the Ultra-Orthodox parties in the same coalition.

UTJ Knesset faction will meet Sunday to discuss progress in coalition talks.

Ravitz congratulated Friday Shinui leader Justice Minister Yosef Lapid for retracting his opposition to sitting in government with ultra-Orthodox parties.

‘I welcome this trend in Shinui,’ said Ravitz.

‘If [Lapid] continues in this path, we will be able to meet earlier than I had anticipated.” He added.

Lapid managed Thursday an open debate on retracting his party promise to “never” join a government with Ultra-Orthodox parties.

Even when more than 80 members of Shinui 117 member council demanded a debate, the debate was postponed till next Thursday.

Lapid and Shinui No. 2 leader Interior Minister Avraham Poraz promised, earlier in the week, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to drop their longtime opposition to partnering with a Haredi parties.

In the past few days, Lapid was under constant attack in the press from journalists, politicians, and Shinui activists.

‘Don’t humiliate me in front of my friends whom I persuaded to vote Shinui,’ cried Shinui Youth leader Aviel Aharoni during Thursday meeting.

‘Shinui needs to get off the narrow fence of sectarian politics, and stop riding only one horse,’ Lapid answered.

Recent Polls indicated that Shinui constituency was shocked by the move. One third of its voters said they were confident that they will vote again for Shinui; 10% of them clearly stated that they will not vote Shinui if early elections are held.

UTJ made it even harder for Lapid as they openly demanded every ministry Shinui is currently holding.

As Shinui was disputing its leader’s 180 degrees turn, Labor decided to suspend coalition talks with Likud following a dispute over the timing of the 2005 budget vote.

Likud dismissed Labor’s request to postpone the Knesset voting on the budget to allow Labor time for further discussions on socio-economic issues.

However, the suspension will be brief, with the negotiation teams slated to meet again on Monday.