Israeli Right Wingers Abandon Olmert

Group withdraws from coalition, condemns peace talks
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 16, 2008 11:16 AM CST
Israel's Minister for Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman talks during a news conference announcing his party's resignation from the government, at the Knesset, Israel's parliament in Jerusalem Wednesday...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Ehud Olmert’s coalition government is hanging by a thread today after the defection of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, a hardline right-wing faction staunchly opposed to peace talks with the Palestinians. “Negotiations on the basis of land for peace are a critical mistake and will destroy us,” said a party spokesman. Olmert’s coalition is left with just a seven-vote majority, Reuters reports.

Olmert’s office said peace talks would continue, but the defection is a major blow to the already politically vulnerable PM. Olmert is pushing for a Palestinian state conditioned on Israeli security. Beiteinu prefers a swap of territory and people—namely Israel’s 20% ethnic Arab minority. “Our problem is not with the Palestinians, but with Israeli Arabs,” he said.