Israeli party vows to quit cabinet if talks-plus-rockets continue

Other News Materials 12 February 2008 00:40 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa )- One of Israeli Premier Ehud Olmert's main coalition partners warned Monday it would bolt the government if peace talks with the Palestinians progressed while Gaza-based militants continued to fire missiles at the Jewish state.

"If there is any progress (in the negotiations with Palestinians) beyond the current point and we are still under fire from Qassams (missiles), then we will quit the government immediately," Trade and Industry Minister Eli Yishai, of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, was quoted by Israel Army Radio as saying.

Yishai's remarks come as calls are growing in Israel for a wide- ranging military offensive offensive in the Gaza Strip to deal with the rockets, at least 134 of which have been launched at southern Israel in the past seven days.

The departure of the 12-seat Shas from the coalition would leave Olmert at the helm of a minority coalition unlikely to survive for long.

The Shas leader has previously threatened to bolt the coalition if the current Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, recently renewed after a seven year hiatus, discussed dividing Jerusalem.

Last week he called for the peace talks to be put on hold, after a Palestinian suicide bomber killed a woman in the southern Israeli town of Dimona.