Olmert Warns against Joining Gov't.

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CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - In what appeared to be a parting shot at Defense Minister and Labor chairman Ehud Barak, outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned against joining Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu's government.

At Sunday's Cabinet meeting, Olmert defended his administration's willingness to cede Judea, Samaria (the West Bank) and east Jerusalem to a future Palestinian state.

"Over the past few years, the negotiations between us and the Palestinians have been serious, intense and thorough," Olmert said.

"Anyone who thinks it's possible to go back to the old formulas and secure a viable peace through them is misleading not only themselves but the entire public as well. They can cause irreversible damage," he said.

"This battle is not only dependent on our military capabilities. Anyone who thinks they can rally that kind of cooperation using a policy that destroys any chance of a political arrangement between us and the Palestinians or us and they, the Syrians, is delusional," the outgoing prime minister said.

Olmert also advocates ceding the Golan Heights to Syria.

Barak's office said they would not be enticed into responding "to these pathetic attempts" to attack the defense minister.

"It would be better for Mr. Olmert to resign in silence and allow the political arena to function, for the country's sake," Barak's office said.

Likud members criticized the outgoing prime minister's attempt to interfere with coalition negotiations.

"He cares more about preventing Barak from remaining defense minister than about what is good for the country, which is [the formation of] a national unity government as soon as possible," he said.

Meanwhile, coalition talks between Labor and Likud began Monday, with the aim of producing a draft agreement before a Labor party vote on Tuesday.

Sources: The Jerusalem Post, YNet news

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