Labor Chairman and Defense Minister Amir Peretz may use MK Ophir Paz-Pines's resignation from the cabinet as an opportunity to advance his standing with Labor's kibbutz supporters, senior Labor officials said Wednesday.
Paz-Pines, who resigned from government following Israel Beiteinu's addition to the coalition, served as minister of Science, Culture and Sport. According to one Labor minister, Peretz might appoint MK Orit Noked, Labor's Kibbutz Movement representative, to fill the position.
"Peretz approached Noked, not the other way around," said a Labor minister. He added that according to the deal, Noked would have to give up her seat in the Knesset to take the post. "We believe that he is maneuvering things to bring someone else into the Knesset," the minister said. Peretz has been suffering from increasing rebellions in his Labor faction, with Paz-Pines being the latest to declare that he will challenge Peretz for the party leadership.
Noked and Kibbutz Movement Secretary Ze'ev Shore both denied that an appointment had been made, but did not comment on whether Noked had been approached about the position. It would be Noked's first ministerial appointment. She served as deputy minister to the vice premier in the 16th Knesset.