October 24, 2008

Shas Say No to Kadima Coalition Government

The Shas party announced Friday that its leadership decided not to join a new Israeli government led by the Kadima party's Tzipi Livni.

The ultra-Orthodox Shas said in a statement it sought aid for Israel's needy population and to protect Jerusalem but was turned down, the Jerusalem Post reported.

"Shas asked for real aid for the Israeli society's disadvantaged population and sought to protect Jerusalem. We cannot ignore the difficulties and hardship these days, when Israel has reached the first place in poverty among the developed countries," the party said in a statement.

Livni said she intended to meet Sunday with Israeli President Shimon Peres to announce whether she could form a coalition government.

Livni could create a smaller coalition with several other parties, Ynetnews.com reported, but the formal refusal from Shas to join a coalition could lead to general elections.

An aide to Livni said the absence of Shas changes the makeup of Israeli governance.

"It's important to recall that the conditions change if Shas is not in the government," the source told Ynetnews. "There will be more ministerial positions available and additional tools to create a government."