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Prime Minister Ariel Sharon telephoned chairman Natan Sharansky of Yisrael b'Aliyah yesterday, and asked him to consider linking his party with Likud as part of a special agreement.

Sharansky, who resigned his seat in the Knesset following the his party's poor showing, would hold a senior cabinet post in Sharon's next government if he accepts the offer. Yisrael b'Aliyah only won two seats in the 16th Knesset, and as a result, Sharansky decided to step down.

It would seem, according to Sharon's political considerations, that Sharansky would be more valuable inside the prime minister's coalition than on the opposition benches.

Yisrael b'Aliyah is examining Sharon's suggestion, although many members are concerned it will be "lost" if it becomes part of Likud, and feel that such a move may even endanger the party's political future. They maintain that the party's position would be stronger as part of the opposition, particularly as the voice of political and social protest for Russian immigrants.

On the other hand, plenty of people in Likud oppose including Yisrael b'Aliyah in the coalition at the price of granting Sharansky a cabinet post.