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If PM bows to Shas, we're out!
Barak to wait
for A-G's ruling before making any decisions
By Yossi Verter
Ha'aretz Political Correspondent
Education Minister and Meretz Party chair Yossi Sarid is threatening that his
party will bolt the coalition if Prime Minister Ehud Barak accedes to the latest
Shas demands. Shas wants Deputy Education Minister Meshulam Nahari to have
responsibility over his party's educational network, Ma'ayan Hahinuch Hatorani,
and changes in the reform plan for this network.
Sarid said that Barak has nothing to fear from Meretz's leaving the government,
because "10 sons of Haman [the evil vizier in the Scroll of Esther], who are the
10 Meretz MKs, will still vote in favor of peace and of the peace process."
Barak is waiting for Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein to decide whether or
not to open a criminal investigation against Shas' spiritual leader, Rabbi
Ovadia Yosef, for harsh utterances about Sarid during his sermon last Saturday
night. If Rubinstein opts not to order an inquiry, Barak will then announce his
decision, which will likely favor of Shas's demands. But if Rubinstein does
indeed decide to investigate Rabbi Yosef, Barak's office fears that Shas may
leave the coalition.
One Israel officials told Ha'aretz that Meretz's threat is serious, and that, if
Barak agrees to Shas's demands, "Meretz will be out already next week."
During yesterday's contacts, Shas members told One Israel representatives that
they would not commit themselves to supporting the peace process in advance, nor
to withdraw their support for the Likud-sponsored referendum law. Barak's office
was bitterly disappointed at Shas's stand, having hoped that the party would
agree to announce its "return to the coalition" in exchange for the meeting of
its demands, something that would have also encouraged concessions from Meretz.
Barak plans to announce his decision by next Monday - the date of the Knesset
vote on the Likud's no-confidence motion on the subject of Jerusalem.
Sarid claims that Meretz "went to the limit" in conceding to Shas, but that it
"won't exceed it." Reopening the Ma'ayan agreement would mean the funneling of
tens of millions of shekels into the network's coffers, and "no matter where the
money comes from...it is taxpayers' money that is better spent elsewhere," he
said. Sarid also claimed that a renegotiation of the Ma'ayan agreement is meant
"to drag us around again like carcasses in the market, and we don't intend to go
over this route again. Sarid yesterday criticized Barak's mild response to Rabbi
Yosef's statements, calling it "slack, thin, and soft."
Despite Sarid's statements, officials in the Barak's office are still hoping
that the chance for renewed talks with Syria will cause the Meretz leader to
withdraw his threats of leaving the coalition.
Sarid was prevented by the General Security Services (Shin Bet) from
participating in a Meretz youth demonstration last night at Tel Aviv's Yitzhak
Rabin Square, out of fears for his security. The youth auxiliary decided to call
the gathering, which was held to protest against Rabbi Yosef's violent
statements: "We don't want a Sarid Square.
Torquemada im Lande Israel:
Der Anfang der Inquisition?
WENN DIES KEINE MORDHETZE IST -
WAS IST DANN