Yisrael Beiteinu May Quit Gov't if PM Starts Talks After Summit

Party may resign if after Annapolis Olmert takes steps to launch serious talks with the Palestinians, Haaretz has learned.

Yisrael Beiteinu might consider resigning from the coalition if in the weeks after the Annapolis conference Prime Minister Ehud Olmert appears serious about beginning intense talks with the Palestinians, Haaretz has learned.

Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman will wait for Olmert's return from Annapolis and watch the diplomatic moves Olmert makes, among them which negotiating teams are established and who heads them.

If Lieberman gets the impression Olmert is serious about talks, he will call a faction meeting to consider leaving the coalition, which the party joined over a year ago. "No decision has been made yet on leaving," Lieberman said Wednesday. He noted, however, that a decision will have to be made before too long.

Lieberman has shown displeasure with the coalition on both the personal and parliamentary level. In Monday's cabinet meeting that discussed Annapolis, he arrived only when it was his turn to speak and then left. A few hours later he and the Yisrael Beiteinu faction left during the no-confidence vote Likud initiated on freezing construction in the settlements.

The previous week, Yisrael Beiteinu supported a bill to require a large majority if Jerusalem were to be divided in the framework of a peace treaty. Wednesday, the faction voted for a series of bills proposed by the opposition.