Former Labor Party chairman Amir Peretz will urge his successor, Ehud Barak, at Monday’s Labor faction meeting to force Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to add Kadima to his coalition.

Peretz will propose that Labor form a coalition negotiating team to meet with Kadima officials and draft guidelines for a new government. He said the two parties should present them to Netanyahu and tell him that if he does not accept them, neither party will be in the coalition, but that if he accepts them, both will be in.

“I told Barak a month ago that his recent statements about wanting Kadima to join the government are empty unless we do this,” Peretz said. “If Barak agrees and will negotiate directly with [Kadima leader Tzipi] Livni, that would be ideal. But if not, let’s appoint negotiating teams.”

Peretz said the maneuver was crucial following the damage to Israel’s reputation by the Gaza flotilla raid.

“I would have said we should do this even without the boat, but especially now, it’s crucial to improve Israel’s image,” Peretz said.

Kadima council chairman Haim Ramon endorsed the idea on Saturday on Channel 2’s Meet the Press program.

And on Sunday morning, MK Ophir Akunis, the chairman of Likud’s response team, fired off a letter to Kadima’s chairwoman Tzipi Livni and faction chairwoman Dalia Itzik, blasting them for not withdrawing a no-confidence motion set for Monday criticizing the government’s behavior during last week’s flotilla crisis.



“A number of no-confidence proposals regarding the Gaza flotilla are set to be brought forth tomorrow. One of them is from Kadima and three more are from the Arab factions. It is very unfortunate that the lead opposition faction chose to join the Arab factions in waking another purposeless and harmful internal argument at this time,” Akunis wrote.

“You promised to support the government and aid them in fending off the international attack, but are actually dealing in petty politics,” he continued. Akunis reminded Kadima leaders that under their government, the Likud refrained from public criticism of the administration under similar circumstances during Operation Cast Lead.

Kadima officials said on Sunday that last week, it was not the opposition but rather anonymous ministers from within the coalition who had criticized the IDF’s activities and intelligence gathering. The true expression of no-confidence, they said, was recent criticism via the media of the IDF’s preparedness and response to the flotilla. The behavior of those coalition ministers and not that of the IDF, the Kadima officials said, was the focus of the faction’s no-confidence motion, and any attempt by the Likud to present the no-confidence motion as disloyal was “simply absurd.”

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