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Tuesday, 31 October, 2000, 14:08 GMT
Israeli hardliner vows to topple Barak
Ariel Sharon
Ariel Sharon: a fierce opponent of the Oslo peace process
The leader of Israel's opposition Likud Party, Ariel Sharon, has vowed to topple Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

His remarks follow the failure of coalition talks between the government and Likud, amid continuing violence in the region.

Until the weekend, Mr Barak was trying to persuade Ariel Sharon to enter a government of national unity.


We cannot support Barak and his failed government and we will make every effort to replace him

Ariel Sharon
But at Monday's opening of parliament, it emerged that the prime minister had obtained the temporary support of the ultra-orthodox Shas, allowing the government to survive at least for the next month.

Mr Sharon - the man Palestinians blame for sparking the clashes - accuses Mr Barak of making Israel "appear weak" by continuing to seek peace through the so-called Oslo peace process.

The Likud leader has now told the Israeli media that he will devote all of his energy towards toppling Mr Barak.

'Last gasps'

The BBC's Greg Barrow in Jerusalem says the prospect of working alongside Mr Barak in a government still committed to Middle East peace seems to have proved to much for Mr Sharon.

Ehud Barak
The prime minister has the temporary support of the ultra-orthodox Shas

Mr Sharon set stiff conditions when negotiating his possible inclusion in a coalition with Mr Barak.

These included his appointment as deputy prime minister, a hand in determining the agenda on security issues and the power of veto over any diplomatic initiatives.

Now the coalition talks have failed, the Likud leader says the government must be replaced.

"We cannot support Barak and his failed government and we will make every effort to replace him", he said.

"It is clear already that it will take another month, another few months, but these are already the last gasps of the government", added Mr Sharon.

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See also:

31 Oct 00 | Middle East
Rockets blast Arafat offices
30 Oct 00 | Middle East
Barak passes first Knesset test
30 Oct 00 | Media reports
Barak and Sharon slug it out
30 Oct 00 | Middle East
Shas: Breaking the Israeli mould
24 Oct 00 | Middle East
Ariel Sharon: Controversial hardliner
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