Votes on migrants' kids divide party

Barak attacks fellow Labor MKs Herzog and Braverman over vote.

August 2, 2010 23:53
2 minute read.
A Purim party for foreign workers' children.

migrant workers children 311. (photo credit: Mya Guarnieri)

The next election for Labor Party leader is still more than two years away, but the three announced candidates already began recriminations on Monday when they accused each other of acting hypocritically on the issue of foreign workers’ children.

Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog and Minister-without-Portfolio Avishay Braverman were instrumental in limiting the number of children of foreign workers who the cabinet decided to expel on Sunday.

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The cabinet ultimately decided on 400, but in part because that number was reduced from much more, Herzog abstained and Braverman voted in favor.

Sources close to Labor chairman Ehud Barak, who will face a challenge from Herzog and Braverman in the next Labor race, said the two ministers violated a decision by the Labor faction to oppose deporting any children of foreign workers. They said Barak himself would have voted against the proposal had he not been on his way back from a visit to the United States at the time of the decision.

Labor secretary-general Weizmann Shiri, who is very close to Barak, said Herzog and Braverman acted hypocritically by voting for a proposal that they repeatedly spoke against.

“We stop being a party the moment everyone decides on his own agenda,” Shiri told Army Radio. “That’s what angered me. They didn’t act as emissaries of the party’s voters or according to its mandate.”

Herzog said he abstained because voting against the proposal would have meant immediately expelling all the children whom the vote enabled to stay. Braverman called the proposal a big success because more children were not expelled and accused his critics of “cheap populism.”

Barak’s associates responded to criticism that he did not phone in a “No” vote in advance of his flight by saying that voting from abroad on such a sensitive manner would not have been serious.

Religious Affairs Minister Ya’acov Margi, who voted against the proposal because he wanted all the children of foreign workers expelled, called the ministers who opposed it for the opposite reason “snobs from north Tel Aviv.”

Margi singled out Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, who indeed lives in one of Tel Aviv’s best neighborhoods, and Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor, who lives in Jerusalem.

“If there was one Eritrean foreign worker in their building they would go crazy and do everything possible to prevent them from living there,” Margi said.

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