Israeli government coalition talks stalled

Israel’s Labor and Kadima parties are in revolt against their leaders’ decision to do away with deputy ministers in future Olmert government. Influential members omitted from the list of seven Labor insiders awarded cabinet posts by Amir Peretz accuse him of betraying party ideals and his key election pledge to fight for social and economic reform, including raising the minimum wage to $1,000, for the sake of high office. They demand that the party`s central commmittee approve the list of ministers.
Ultra-religious Shas and the Pensioners are holding out for social benefits for their constituencies as well as key ministerial and deputy ministerial posts.
Ex-foreign minister Silvan Shalom demands that former PM Binyamin Netanyahu step down after Likud crashed in the March general election, ending up with 12 seats in the 120-strong Knesset and heavy debts. He challenged Netanyahu to make way for a new broom, able to initiate an urgent rehabilitation program for lifting Likud out of its crisis. But a feeler from acting prime minister Ehud Olmert to persuade Likud dissidents to defect was rebuffed.
The acting PM has seven days to form a government. His goal of a broad coalition of 28 ministers commanding an 84-member Knesset majority is receding day by day.

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