Israel coalition gets reprieve

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The Independent Online
Intricate negotiations to avert a coalition crisis in Israel made progress yesterday when Yitzhak Rabin persuaded his government's two warring minority parties to take another week to sort out their differences, writes Sarah Helm in Jerusalem.

The threat to the coalition was sparked by the resignation of the interior minister, Aryeh Deri, of the religious party, Shas, on Sunday. There was a strong sense last night in Israeli political circles that the reprieve means a deal is in the offing, which will allow Shas and the left-wing secular party, Meretz, to continue their unhappy co-existence, thereby shoring up Mr Rabin's majority in parliament.

If so, the Rabin government will be able to switch its attention back to the other intricate negotiations in which it is involved: the Middle East peace talks. In recent days the talks in Washington have shown signs of running out of steam, with the Palestinian and Syrian delegation accusing Israel of offering 'nothing new'.