Shas Rabbis: Party Will Quit Coalition Immediately if J'lem Discussed

Party leader Eli Yishai briefs Council of Torah sages on latest meeting with Olmert over settlement freeze, peace talks.

The Shas party's Council of Torah Sages said Sunday that the faction would quit the coalition immediately if Israel opened negotiations with the Palestinian Authority over the future of Jerusalem.

The council's declaration followed talks earlier in the day between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas regarding the situation on the Gaza Strip's border with Egypt.

The council urged party chairman Minister Eli Yishai to continue to follow negotiations closely and to report to them immediately on progress.

"There must be no talks on peace agreements and no negotiations should be made before a complete end to terror as accepted by all," said the council.

The Council of Torah Sages comprises four rabbis and is headed by the party's spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef.

Yishai briefed the council Sunday evening on his latest talks with the prime minister with regard to political negotiations and decisions over the construction freeze in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.