Have agreed to meet on Sunday to discuss national unity government

The PM has invited opposition leader to a meeting Sunday afternoon to resume negotiations over Labor joining the coalition to form a national unity government.

Sharon said he was happy with his present government, but was willing to change its make up to ensure the disengagement plan proceeds as quickly and smoothly as possible.

Peres said he was ready to continue coalition talks, but would only agree to enter the government if it was clear Labor would be a significant influence on both foreign and social-economic policies. “If we can influence things from within it is preferable”, he said.

Backbenchers in both parties have expressed their opposition to such a development. Uzi Landau and the other hawkish Likud MKs opposing disengagement say this is a further step in Sharon’s disengagement from and betrayal of his own party’s most basic principles.

Eitan Cabel (Labor), who opposes entering the government, said such a step would make Peres “responsible for the final demise of the Labor party, which cannot survive another term as Sharon’s sidekick. “We need to provide an alternative, not an accomplice”, he said.

Shinui, which has been a keen advocate of a Likud-Labor-Shinui government since the election campaign, has been silent, busy sorting out the fallout from the Paritzkygate scandal which broke last night.

There is also growing if unspoken concern in the party that if Labor joins, internal pressure from the Likud rank and file could force Sharon to replace Shinui with Shas and the United Torah Front.


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