Netanyahu turns down offer to join government

Sunday, September 23, 2007 |  by Staff Writer

Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday firmly rejected an unofficial offer to bring his Likud Party into the government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

In an interview with Army Radio on Friday, Olmert's top deputy, Vice Premier Haim Ramon said there is room in the government for Netanyahu, who “could definitely be a part of the effort to make diplomatic progress and overcome difficulties.”

An official from Netanyahu's office that was quoted by The Jerusalem Post said there is no chance of the Likud leader joining a government that promotes an extreme left-wing policy regarding Israel's future control of Jerusalem and its biblical heartland.

Ramon himself has been pushing a proposal whereby Israel would surrender all Arab-dominated neighborhoods of Jerusalem to the Palestinian Authority, allowing the establishment of a foreign capital in the holy city.

Meanwhile, the results of a new public opinion poll published in Israel's Yediot Ahronot daily newspaper showed that if elections were held today, Netanyahu's Likud would still defeat Olmert's ruling Kadima Party by a handy margin of 24 mandates to 10.

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