ZAA NKWETA, PRESENTER: Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s coalition government suffered a blow today. Avegdor Lieberman, chairman of Yisrael Beiteinu, announced his party’s resignation from Israel’s coalition government.
AVIGDOR LIEBERMAN, YISRAEL BEITEINU CHAIRMAN: This process, this direction of Annapolis I cannot accept. And if I cannot accept this process, I must be out of the government.
Prime Minister Olmert’s government depends on a fragile coalition consisting of various political parties. Palestinian Journalist, Hisham Sharabati, believes today’s developments are a sign of things to come.
HISHAM SHARABATI, PALESTINIAN JOURNALIST: The problem facing the current Israeli government will come at the end of this month, as the Labor party has threatened many times that when the Vinograd report regarding the last-summer war on Lebanon will be issued, they will withdraw from the government. And the other thing is that there is another threat by Shas, which is another religious party, who is represented by 12 Israeli Knesset members, that they also threatened to withdraw when the negotiations regarding Jerusalem will start. And that means any development in the negotiations, if not the start of the final status negotiations, we will see the Israeli coalition fall apart. President Bush has said that without having the full Palestinian legitimacy, which is the leadership of President Abbas on Gaza, it will be very difficult to reach an agreement. Also that, you know, by the American commitment all the time to what is called the security of Israel, with this, Israel, they have a green light by President Bush to go further with the massive incursions into Gaza. President Bush is leaving in one year. The problem is that the Israeli partner in the negotiations, it seems, is going to go sooner. George Bush, during his visit, he was trying to convince Yisrael Beiteinu and other partners in the Israeli coalition to continue the support of Ehud Olmert. Ehud Olmert himself, if he is willing and he determines on going on in negotiations and taking what they call tough decisions and tough positions in the negotiations, of course, regarding giving up certain things to the Palestinians, that may make him have the support of other lefty groups in the Knesset, including Palestinian-Knesset members. If they see that the Israeli government is winning and going forward with serious negotiations and willing to give up things to the Palestinians, they may give their support to the government. But they are not enough, and the Labor and other smaller groups will remain in the Israeli government. Otherwise, it seems we will have to go through Israeli elections again, and waiting for a coming American president, which, of course, in the meantime the area will remain in bloodshed and the violence, and the difficulties will remain the same.
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