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Israel's Olmert on verge of forming coalition govt

Written by: Staff
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JERUSALEM, Apr 30 (Reuters) Israel's acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was on the verge of signing up enough partners for a coalition government today after a key faction agreed in principle to join up, political sources said.

They said Shas, an ultra-religious Jewish party, had drafted a coalition deal with Olmert's centrist Kadima which awaited the approval of Shas's ruling rabbis. The sages were to convene at 9 p.m. 2330 hrs ist, the sources said.

With Shas on board, Olmert would control 67 of parliament's 120 seats -- a majority crucial to pushing through a plan to withdraw from isolated Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank in the absence of peace talks with the Palestinians.

REUTERS PR RK2315

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