The chances for an economic package deal are dwindling. The meeting between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Histadrut union leader MK Amir Peretz ended without progress.

In the meeting, Peretz explained his opposition to freezing national insurance stipends and the minimum wage, stating that the moves are organized labor's line in the sand.

Peretz suggested the prime minister order the issuance of a special social rights bond to raise resources instead of freezing stipends and minimum wage. Sharon promised to examine the idea, but there was no breakthrough in the impasse during the meeting.

The Ministry of Finance stated negotiations to bridge the gaps will continue, but did not offer any new ideas for doing so.