According to Arab-y-net news site, Shinui leader Yousef Lapid told a close aid to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, late in the night on Monday, that his party is welling to sit in the cabinet with United Torah Judaism (UTJ) party if Labor also joins.

The report came hours after Lapid warned Sharon that his party would walk out if UJT is invited.

if true, a broader new cabinet could be formed in few weeks.

Sharon Prefers a Likud-Labor-Shinui-UTJ Coalition

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Sunday informed Shinui party leader Yousef Lapid that he intends to invite the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party to join the cabinet together with Labor and Shinui.

In a Sunday meeting with Lapid and Interior Minister Abraham Boraz (Shinui), Sharon clarified that his preference is for a Likud, Shinui, Labor, and UTJ coalition.

Lapid warned Sharon that Shinui will leave the cabinet if UTJ joins, demanding accelerated negotiations to bring Labor into the coalition.

During the weekend, Sharon spoke to UTJ MKs Moshe Gafni and Avraham Ravitz and told them that he is interested in including UTJ in the government.

Likud delegates met Sunday evening with representatives from UTJ at the Kfar Hamaccabiah convention center in Ramat Gan.

Despite Shinui’s refusal, Sharon’s aides believe that eventually Shinui will have to compromise as they are not interested in early elections.

As well, Likud party delegates met Sunday with representatives from the ultra-orthodox Shas Party for coalition talks.

Shas is conditioning joining the coalition with canceling the ‘couples’ registration bill’, which would enable couples who do not wish to marry through the Chief Rabbinate to have the same rights as married couples.

The meeting also focused on social and economic issues.

Meanwhile, Israeli Labor Party Head Shimon Peres told Saturday Israeli TV Channel 2 that Labor’s inclusion in the government could accelerate the implementation of the disengagement plan.

‘I think it’s possible to form a coalition that will evacuate settlements before November’ Peres Said.

‘In the talks Sharon gave me to understand that, as much as possible, he will speed up implementation of the plan. I can’t give dates,’ he added.

Likud and Labor teams holding coalition talks agreed Thursday that a government would be established within two weeks of signing any agreement.

At a meeting Thursday with Likud branch heads, Sharon complained that Likud internal opposition has left him no choice but to expand the coalition, warning that if a national unity government is not formed, he will have to go to elections.

Also Thursday, Labor demanded a special Knesset debate on the unilateral disengagement plan next Wednesday in the company of the prime minister.

Labor filed a request signed by 40 MKs calling for a special debate in which Sharon is required to participate.

Labor leader Shimon Peres told Israel Radio on Thursday that he hasn’t ruled out forming part of a government with the ultra-Orthodox parties, but wouldn’t sit in a coalition with those opposed to the disengagement plan.

On Wednesday, Peres met with Shas Chairman Eli Yishai; Shinui’s leader Justice Minister Yosef Lapid met with senior Labor officials headed by Itzik.

On Monday, the Knesset will debate five no-confidence motions. A Labor motion protests the government’s socio-economic policy while a Shas motion deal with civil marriage issues. A motion filed by Balad protests the government policy in the territories while motions from Yahad and United Torah Judaism deal with socio-political matters.

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