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If Yisrael b'Aliyah were to submerge into the Likud, it would prefer a high-profile portfolio over a social portfolio. A senior party source said yesterday that the elections proved that social portfolios such as the housing minister, a portfolio held in the previous Knesset by Yisrael b'Aliyah chair Natan Sharansky, and deputy absorption minister, a position held by Yuli Edelstein in the previous Knesset, failed to bring in the votes.

Based on these conclusions, the source said, the party has raised the possibility that Sharansky would be put in charge of the public relations portfolio, a position that would give him a high profile while enabling him at the same time to rehabilitate the party.

Although no decision about the future of Yisrael b'Aliyah has yet been taken, it would appear that joining the Likud would appear to be the most serious option.

The party has also decided that even if Prime Minister Ariel Sharon were to continue in his role as absorption minister, Yuli Edelstein will not accept the position of deputy minister as this will place a burden of responsibility on Yisrael b'Aliyah without giving it any electoral yield.

At a meeting of Yisrael b'Aliyah party leaders yesterday, conflicting opinions emerged between those in favor of joining the Likud and those in favor of Yisrael b'Aliyah remaining independent, either as a member of the coalition or in opposition.

The idea of joining forces with Avigdor Lieberman's National Union now seems extremely unlikely.