The Shass right-wing religious party is the second to join the Kadima-Labor coalition to form the Israeli government, yet without a pledge to back Kadima’s unilateral pullout plan, Israeli sources said on Monday.
Shas and Kadima signed a coalition agreement on Sunday, after Interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert decided to let Shas join the coalition without agreeing to the evacuation of settlements, even though this is one of the government guidelines.
Kadima’s leader, Olmert told Shas Chairman Eli Yishai that Shas can decided on the evacuation if and when the issue becomes an item on the government’s agenda.
Yishai said that his party will be committed to government guidelines mentioned in Olmert’s speech of victory which does not mention any evacuation of settlements.
In addition, Kadima agreed to Shas’s demand that any legislation on the problem of people barred from marrying in
The Israeli Knesset passed al aw two years ago preventing Palestinians of becoming Israeli citizens even if they marry Israelis.
National Union Religious Party (NRP) and United Torah Judaism (UTJ) criticized Shas’s decision to sign the coalition agreement, which marks that party’s return to power after three and a half years in the opposition, saying this constitutes a license to remove settlers from
"Shas’s entry into the government constitutes a de facto kashrut certificate for the uprooting of thousands of settlers and the burning and destruction of dozens of synagogues and Torah institutions in Gush Katif and, heaven forbid, dozens more in Judea and
"The settlers will not forget that Shas turned its back on them during this difficult time, when the sword is at its throat."
The UTJ ministers were fired from the previous government by the Ariel Sharon after they refused to vote for his unilateral disengagement plan from the Gaza Strip in 2005.
Shas will have four ministers, yet only one of them, Yishai will have a portfolio. He will become Industry and Trade Minister.
Shas, who won 12 Knesset Members in March’s elections, brings the number of seats of the coalition to 60 which constitutes 50%, missing 1% to form a majority to form the government.
Kadima will likely be able to include Meretz who won 5 seats in the coalition to ensure the missing 1%, yet, this will cost at least one minister.