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Right-wing party quits Olmert's government

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Right-wing party quits Olmert's government

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A right-wing party has pulled out of Israel’s coalition government, in a move that could deal a major blow to Ehud Olmert’s peace efforts with the Palestinians. Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman was making good on his threat to quit, once peace talks moved to “core issues”, including borders and the fate of Jerusalem.

The hardline Strategic Affairs Minister, whose party appeals to Russian-speaking immigrants, said: “Negotiations on the basis of land for peace are a critical mistake…and will destroy us.”

The development leaves the Israeli Prime Minister more politically vulnerable, but still in control of a majority in parliament. Although he could face a similar pullout from another coalition member, Ehud Olmert has said he won’t be deterred from pursuing a peace agreement.