Shas: 'Defenders of Jerusalem'

Ad Feedback - JERUSALEM, Israel - Industry and Trade Minister Eli Yishai hit the ground running Thursday, upon his return from a five-day trip to China.

Yishai requested a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert reportedly to discuss his position on Jerusalem, one of the "core issues" under discussion by Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams.

With Wednesday's decision by Yisrael Beiteinu to leave the government, taking with it 11 coalition seats, solidifying the Shas party's 12 seats rocketed to high priority.

Olmert's colleagues wasted no time conveying the prime minister's "promise" that discussions on Jerusalem would be delayed, while other "core issues," which include final borders, Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), Palestinian "refugees," security, and water resources, would continue apace.

The prime minister's message was also delivered to Communications Minister Ariel Attias and to the party's spiritual mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.

"Olmert is no an idiot," the communications minister said. "He will leave the Jerusalem issue until the end of the negotiations because of us [the Shas party], and we will make sure he never gets there," he said.

"As long as we are in the government, Jerusalem will not be negotiated. We will go to the next elections as the 'defenders of Jerusalem,'" he said.

Kadima Member of Knesset (MK) Otniel Schneller said the prime minister should speak forthrightly about the party's position on Jerusalem, while adding another right-wing party, such as United Torah Judaism (UTJ), to the coalition to keep a balance.

"Kadima requires balance and now the balance has been harmed," Schneller said. "We need to add UTJ because a plane with one wing crashes," he said.

Meanwhile, the Likud party welcomed Avigdor Lieberman's decision to join the opposition and work toward new elections.

Likud MK Silvan Shalom predicted that Yisrael Beiteinu's decision spelled "the beginning of the end of Olmert's government," while MK Yuval Steinitz doubted Shas will succeed in its mission to defend Jerusalem.

"Jerusalem is being cut to shreds on the negotiating table, and Shas will ultimately be responsible for the loss of the Western Wall," Steinitz predicted.

Source: The Jerusalem Post

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