Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

21 Shevat 5761 - Febuary 14, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Likud and Labor near Unity Agreement
by Yated Ne'eman Staff

Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon have tentatively approved an agreement on conditions for a national unity government. On Tuesday morning Likud leaders were minimizing the differences and Labor leaders insisted that there were still outstanding issues, but it was clear that significant progress had been made.

The agreement says the government will work to advance peace with the Palestinians using interim agreements and that permanent peace will be negotiated with Syria and Lebanon on the basis of UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, which call for trading land for peace. It calls for Israel and the Palestinians to make painful concessions for peace and to honor accords that have been approved by the Knesset.

A mechanism would be created for coordination of the government, which would most likely include two representatives from both Likud and Labor.

Labor negotiator Dalia Itzik said that Labor agreed to take the Likud's approach of working for interim agreements and abandon Barak's efforts to achieve a final settlement, saying: "It is clear that our approach has failed."

Regarding settlements, the Likud agreed not to build new settlements and that support for existing settlements would be based on their natural growth. The agreement does not mention uprooting settlements or a Palestinian state.

National Religious Party faction chairman Shaul Yahalom, who earlier in the day warned Sharon that his party would not join his government if he signed a deal with Labor abandoning residents of Judea and Samaria, welcomed the agreement and said that, while he has not yet seen it, he does not oppose any of its reported terms.

Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert, a Likud negotiator, said that while Labor would be offered a full partnership in the government, its negotiators are incorrect in thinking that they could be given two prime ministers and veto power over government decisions after their candidate attracted so little support.

"I hope that the next time the Left negotiates with the Palestinians, it will adopt as tough a negotiating stance as it has with representatives of the prime minister-elect," Olmert said.

Olmert said that Labor's negotiators were distracted by the leadership void within their party, which he said was getting in the way of the negotiations.

"The talks are going slower because of disorder in the Labor Party," an official close to Sharon said. "Every time our side brings something up, Labor has to go argue among themselves."

MK Yisrael Katz of Likud has been calling Likud members and urging them not to support the coalition talks. Katz denied that Netanyahu is connected to his effort. He said that he is opposed to allowing Barak to become defense minister and is organizing a rally against it for next Sunday, but that he supports forming a national unity government that remains committed to the principles of the Likud.

Katz said, "I gave my opinion that Barak cannot be defense minister, because the Likud cannot afford to support another zigzag that will hurt the country. Barak has to go home after failing so badly as defense minister. The country voted for our path, not the path that failed."


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