Rumors Abound That Parties May Quit Israel's New Coalition Government

Knesset is rife with speculation that Yisrael Beiteinu and the ultra-Orthodox parties may leave Netanyahu's unity government with Kadima.

The Knesset was rife with speculation on Wednesday that one or more parties will either quit the new, expanded coalition or be ousted.

The parties seen as most likely to jump ship are Yisrael Beiteinu, which objects to the court-ordered demolition of Beit El's Ulpana neighborhood, and the ultra-Orthodox parties, which are likely to object to a planned new law requiring yeshiva students to do some form of national service. If so, Kadima would likely inherit the ministries those parties now control.

MK Uri Ariel (National Union ) added fuel to the speculative fire during a speech to the plenum, when he said that according to information he has received, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to transfer the chairmanship of the Knesset Constitution Committee from Yisrael Beiteinu to Kadima - a move the former would certainly not accept quietly. Other Knesset sources familiar with the unwritten agreement between Likud and Kadima claimed that Netanyahu promised Kadima several ministries currently held by other parties.

"If Netanyahu were to reveal the identity of those ministries today, it would shake or even shatter his coalition," said one. "That's why he's concealing the information."

Senior Kadima MKs said they have been unable to extract any information on this subject from party leader Shaul Mofaz. Yisrael Beiteinu MKs did not show up for yesterday's vote approving the coalition agreement with Kadima. But party leader Avigdor Lieberman insisted that he fully supports the unity government.