Sharon calls UTJ to join the cabinet, not only the coalition; a rising movement within Shinui against accepting Haredi parties in the governmental coalition; Netanyahu expresses strong opposition to inviting Labor to join the cabinet.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon Tuesday rejected Shinui’s conditions to agree to admit ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism into a new coalition.
‘Lapid does not determine the government makeup or the makeup of the Knesset Finance Committee.’ Sharon told UTJ MK Avraham Ravitz.
Sharon also said to Ravitz ‘I will be glad if you decide to join the cabinet, and not only the coalition,’
UTJ MKs insisted Monday that if Shinui stays in cabinet they will stay out, saying that the party rabbis will under no condition allow them to sit with Shinui.
Shinui conditioned its acceptance to sit in the same coalition with UTJ with not offering the ultra-orthodox party any ministerial portfolio and with guarantees against any reversal of decisions made since the cabinet was formed in 2003.
Shinui warned that if its conditions were not met, the five party ministers would quite the cabinet.
Sources in the Prime Minister office described the crisis as last minute bargining, saying that ‘it’s now all a matter of price.’
Meanwhile, Israeli Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stepped up Tuesday his public campaign against a unity government with Labor, warning that it would force a split in the Likud.
Netanyahu said that he believe that a good coalition capable of maintaining Likud’s principles could be formed, hinting ‘certain developments that are advancing the possibility’ of forming such a coalition, but without further explanations.
Sharon aids believe that regardless of how the crisis ends, Sharon will step out triumphed.
If UTJ sticks to its refusal to join a government with Shinui, Sharon would blame them for the failure and could opt for a purely secular government.
On the other hand, if the rejection comes from Shinui side, Sharon might move closer to Likud hardliners blaming Shniui for the ‘lost historical opportunity’