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Yishai: Shas Will Quit Government if Temple Mount is Relinquished

reprinted from HaAretz

by Nadav Shragai

Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai said Tuesday morning that his ultra-Orthodox Shas party will leave the government if Israel relinquishes the Temple Mount as part of a peace deal.

Yishai was referring to the possibility of an agreement of principles being reached with the Palestinian Authority based on a plan recently proposed by Vice Premier Haim Ramon, whereby Israel would pull out of 70 percent of the West Bank, and would begin negotiations for a final-status agreement.

The minister said: "Unequivocally, Shas will not sit in a government that creates a Palestinian state on the Green Line [1967 border] and within Jerusalem municipal land."

Yishai said a division of Jerusalem's Old City and the transfer of the Temple Mount to international control is something he is not ready "even to dream about in [his] worst dreams."

The minister added: "There is not even a shadow of a doubt over whether Shas would agree to dividing Jerusalem and a withdrawal to the 1967 borders, or would sit in a government that signed such an accord."

If Prime Minister Ehud Olmert seeks an agreement on the basis of former United States president Bill Clinton's proposed peace deal for an almost complete pullout from the West Bank, Yishai stated, he will quickly find himself with an accord but with no government.

"Not only Shas will leave the government, but also Yisrael Beiteinu will not sit one day in government that opposes all of its principles" Yishai said.

Right-wing groups are currently organizing to block an agreement of principles between Israel and the PA which would include dividing Jerusalem and relinquishing exclusive Israeli sovereignty over the Temple Mount.

As such, National Religious Party and Likud party activists met and examined the possibility of forming an alternative government, without elections, under the leadership of Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu. This would be founded on the assumption that Shas, Yisrael Beiteinu and perhaps a few Kadima MKs would all leave the coalition in the event of such a final-status deal being reached.



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