Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon offered head of the opposition and Shinui party leader to join the government in order to expand it after members of Knesset from his own party started apposing his policy, Lapid ditched Sharon’s offer.

“I did not come to the meeting with Sharon in order to hold talks on the possibility of forming a coalition government”, Lapid said, “We will no longer support the government, and will become an apposition party.

Lapid added that he was surprised by Sharon’s offer, and that he told him that his party did not think about this option.

Sharon met with Lapid on Thursday at the Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv.

The Shinui party held a meeting in Tel Aviv on Thursday, and decided with vast majority to appose the government, and vote against it in matters such as the national budget and the appointment of new ministers.

An Israeli source reported that meeting was the latest in a series of meeting Sharon is conducting after his victory at the Likud Central Committee two weeks ago.

The main aim behind this meeting is to create a coalition government for the winter session of Knesset ahead of the vote on the budget, Israeli online daily Haaretz reported.

Sharon told Lapid during their meeting that he won’t tolerate Likud members voting against his government.

Lapid said that after Israel implemented it pullout plan, which was backed by Shinui, the party started observing itself as part of the apposition, and will vote against the government.

Meanwhile, member of Knesset Zahava Gil’on, from the Meretz party, slammed Lapid and said that he is rushing back to Sharon’s coalition.

Earlier on Thursday, Lapid told the Israeli radio that Shinui party will accept to join Sharon’s government if it conducts changes to the Tal law which exempts yeshiva students from the military service, and if the government drafts legislation for a law on civil marriage, and changes the law governing joining the army

Sharon commented on Lapid statement by saying that the government is currently weighing changes on the Tal law, and that he is ready to discuss issuing a civil marriage law.

Sharon is trying to gain a majority in order to pass the balance vote at the Knesset, which if fails to pass; Sharon’s government will be on stake. 

It is worth mentioning that Sharon, after pressures practiced by religious parties, agreed to stop all infrastructure work on Saturdays and re-channel financial support for poor social sectors, mainly Shas supporters.