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Israeli Labour Party quits Sharon's coalition

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Israeli Labour Party quits Sharon's coalition

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A turbulent week lies ahead in Israeli politics after the Labour Party voted to leave Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s ruling coalition.

It paves the way for an early election next March. Together with Sharon’s Likud, Labour pushed through his Gaza pullout plan. Labour minister Ofir Pines-Paz said: “We shared a government with the Likud for the last ten, eleven months and we are very proud that we did the disengagement process in a very successful way and now we have to prepare ourselves for the coming elections.” On Sunday, Sharon held his last cabinet meeting with the current government. Labour minister Yitzhak Herzog was confident they would return: “I’m sure we will be back in the government after we win the elections and I am sure we will form the next coalition.” The crisis was triggered when Amir Peretz was elected Labour leader. He wants peace talks with the Palestinians and more stress on labour relations within Israel. There is speculation Sharon could react by quitting his Likud party and forming a new centrist group.