Barak, Yishai Meet, Discuss Coalition

Ehud Barak, who is running for the position of Labor Party Chairman, met with Shas Chairman Eli Yishai yesterday in what political observers view as part of an effort to keep the channels with party leaders open ahead of the May 28 Labor primaries.

Barak has also kept up good relations with Meretz-Yachad Chairman Yossi Beilin and the head of the party's Knesset faction, MK Zahava Gal-On, as well as with former Likud ministers Silvan Shalom and Yisrael Katz.

During the meeting with Yishai, which took place in a Jerusalem hotel room, Barak discussed the coalition and possible developments that could influence the balance of power in the Knesset in the wake of the imminent release of the Winograd report on last summer's war in Lebanon.

One possibility is that a new government will be formed if Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is compelled to resign, a situation that Barak's associates have spent time thinking about, even though Barak would not be able to serve as prime minister because he is not in the Knesset.

Barak's staff confirmed the meeting with Yishai, but said there was nothing unusual about it because the two meet regularly. Yishai's office said he does not generally comment on his private meetings.