Sharansky Keeps Mum on Russian Party Idea

Cabinet Minister Natan Sharansky is refusing to comment on a proposal by National Union Party chair and Transportation Minister Avigdor Lieberman that they form a new right-wing Russian-speakers' party.

Lieberman yesterday reiterated the suggestion in an interview with Radio Rek'a, the Russian-language wavelength, saying that such a bloc "would be helpful to both Israel and the new immigrants."

Sources close to Sharansky said that "when he sees that he can no longer have an influence on matters, he will consider his options."

It appears, however, that Lieberman and Sharansky discussed the matter before yesterday's cabinet meeting. National Union MK Yuri Stern also gave his blessing to the initiative, saying, "There is room for a party on the national level that clearly relates to the Russian street." Stern added, "Since the last elections, the immigrants are losing their political footing."

MK Yuli Edelstein, who joined the Likud with Sharansky, does not rule out the possibility of a Russian-speaking bloc. He said if Sharansky is forced to leave the coalition, this would be an infringement of the contract between Yisrael b'Aliyah and the Likud. In that case, Edelstein said, neither he nor MK Marina Solodkin would remain in the coalition and this could eventually lead to forming a bloc with Lieberman.