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Israel's Parliament Debates Over Policy-Shaping of New Likud Leadership

Aired February 26, 2001 - 4:11 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: New developments announced today in Israel regarding the government of prime minister-elect Ariel Sharon.

On that, CNN's Jerrold Kessel joins us from Tel Aviv -- Jerrold.

JEROLD KESSEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Joie, you wouldn't believe it, given the quiet here, of the aftermath of this political convention of the defeated Labor Party. Still the biggest party in the Israeli parliament, but very much the defeated party after that crushing defeat by Ariel Sharon three weeks ago over the outgoing prime minister, Ehud Barak.

But this evening, the Labor Party here in Tel Aviv voted by 2-1 to join Mr. Sharon's Likud Party in a government of national unity. They will be serving under Mr. Sharon with eight members of the Cabinet out of a 28-strong government. But Labor, very much in a debate here -- a heated debate, a passionate debate -- about what effect they will be able to have on Mr. Sharon in shaping his government.

As a result of the decision taken today here by Labor, the shape of that Sharon government now seems to have been determined. It will be Mr. Sharon in control, but with Labor trying to play a -- very much, a key role, but the shape of its policies not yet clear. And they come out of the debate of whether the Labor will be able to shape Mr. Sharon in the direction of more peace and more moderate policies, or not.

That was the argument today. But so far, it's already been resolved. Labor into a Sharon-led national unity government -- Joie.

CHEN: CNN's Jerrold Kessel for us in Tel Aviv.

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