Shas leader MK Eli Yishai said recently that his party is ready to join the cabinet if Shinui party quit the coalition, confirming that his party has no moral objections to joining the cabinet, but warning that his party might abstain or even vote against the later stages of implementing the disengagement plan.

Yishai, who firmly opposed the disengagement plan, is scheduled to meet Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon next week, and is apparently willing to join a Likud-Labor-Ultra Orthodox party coalition.

Shas leader pointed out that the party’s spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef is known to support returning territories in exchange for a genuine peace agreement.

‘If Shinui leaves the government, and we [Shas] join it, I’d view that as an accomplishment,’ Yishai has told political associates.

After the Monday Likud meeting, Sharon realized that he wouldn’t be able to secure a majority within his party in favor of Labor inclusion in the cabinet, and decided to initiate contacts with Ultra Orthodox religious parties.

Shinui leader Justice Minister Yosef Lapid affirmed Tuesday that his party would not be a member of a government coalition that included Haredi parties.

On Tuesday, Labor party’s central membership voted overwhelmingly in favor of joining a national unity government and authorized party leader Shimon Peres to head the party’s negotiation team for coalition talks.

Officials in Sharon’s office confirmed that talks with Labor will be resumed soon, but refrained from defining an exact date.

Anger and concern have been stirred in the Labor Party as Sharon invited two religious parties for talks on Unity government on Tuesday.

Peres said Tuesday those talks with Likud might be completed soon and a unity agreement could be signed after solving unresolved issues.

Sharon apparently needs to choose between Orthodox parties and Shinui. Likud hardliners firmly oppose a Likud-Shinui-Labor coalition. Labor is apparently welling to live with either option.