Independence faction 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s deal with Defense Minister Ehud Barak that
resulted in a split in the Labor Party will face its first test on Wednesday,
when the Knesset votes on approving Barak’s allies’ political
According to the agreement initialed overnight by Barak’s
ally, Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon, and coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin,
Simhon will be promoted to the Industry, Trade and Labor portfolio, MK Orit
Noked will replace Simhon in the Agriculture Ministry, Deputy Defense Minister
Matan Vilna’i will be upgraded to a second minister in the Defense Ministry and
MK Einat Wilf will chair one Knesset committee and then another.
Livni: Barak's split from Labor 'dirtiest act in history'
Editorial: Labor in pieces
lawmakers promised to not let the appointments pass quietly. They received
permission from the Knesset secretariat to turn the vote into a marathon session
in which every MK is allowed to speak. After the coalition tried unsuccessfully
to block the parliamentary maneuver, most of the Kadima faction is expected to
speak and bash Netanyahu and Barak.
“We want as many MKs as possible to
condemn the corrupt political deal, even if it means the stink will be smelled
everywhere in the Knesset,” a Kadima spokesman said.
The one surprising
clause in the coalition agreement with Barak’s new Independence faction states
that the Likud will take action to ensure that its coalition in the World
Zionist Organization will support a Barak ally becoming chairman of the Jewish
National Fund/Keren Kayemet LeYisrael.
Channel 2 reported that Barak’s
candidate for the lucrative position would be his close ally, former MK Weizmann
Simhon denied the report but declined to say who the candidate
would be. Sources close to him said the post must go to a party in the
coalition, not Labor now that it is in the opposition.
chairman Effi Stenzler of Labor expressed confidence that neither Barak nor
Netanyahu will be able to take away his job.
Hilik Bar said he was also working behind the scenes to ensure that Labor
maintained control of the JNF/KKL.
At a meeting in Tel Aviv of Labor’s
kibbutz sector, the three Labor ministers whose resignations take effect on
Wednesday condemned Barak for the move and expressed confidence that Labor would
“What happened yesterday was highway robbery in broad
daylight,” outgoing Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog said.
“They went behind our backs and left us in a criminal fashion. But we won’t hide
our heads in the sand.”
Outgoing Minorities Affairs Minister Avishay
Braverman expressed outrage that his portfolio would be given to Vilna’i in the
Defense Ministry. He said handling minorities out of the Defense Ministry was a
terrible idea that would not work.
The most optimistic statement came
from outgoing Industry, Trade, and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, who
promised good poll numbers in just two months.
“I think today we have
reason to raise our heads and say that we are happy, despite the terrible thing
that was done to us,” Ben- Eliezer said. “This is an opportunity to return to
the forefront of the political stage.”