Kadima Officials Want Unity Gov't.

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CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - Member of Knesset (MK) Tzahi Hanegbi (Kadima) echoed Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik's call for a national unity government under Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

During the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006, Itzik (Kadima) called for Likud to join the government, citing similar reasons as Hanegbi: the need for a "strong, cohesive government to combat the threats to the country."

But opposition parties will not consider serving under the current prime minister or his party.

"There is absolutely no point of unity between us and Kadima," said Likud faction head Gideon Sa'ar. "Although Kadima presents itself as a centrist party, the current government's position "could just as well be [the ultra-leftwing] Meretz [party]," he said.

Meanwhile, opposition parties, particularly Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu, continue pressuring Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai, chairman of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, to leave the coalition.

"Now that some time has passed since [our] departure from the coalition, it is easier for our parties to team up and apply pressure together," said a Yisrael Beiteinu MK. "Shas already knows that it doesn't belong in a coalition with Olmert. They belong in a coalition with us -- with parties not willing to give up Jerusalem," he said.

"Several key players in Shas want to leave the government," said one senior Likud official. "Their own party members are pressing them to leave. They know they cannot continue to defend Olmert's diplomacy to their own supporters much longer," he said.

On Sunday, a senior member of the Labor party said if Shas leaves the government, Labor would follow suit.

"Labor won't stay in a leftist government that relies on the support of Arab parties," he told YNet.

At the end of last week, Labor chairman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak met with Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.

"It's likely they discussed the possibility of coordinating a date for the next general elections," said the Labor party official.

While that may be true, Labor and Kadima are aligned in many ways, particularly in their shared vision of the establishment of a Palestinian state.

"On the one hand, walking out and pushing up elections would appear to be the obvious choice. But on the other hand, leaving would damage the negotiations and compromise security issues. Barak would have to choose between politics and national interests," said the Labor official.

Sources: The Jerusalem Post, YNet news service

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