Barak, 4 other MKs, to split from Labor, form new faction

Party leader, along with other ministers expected to form new party; House Committee scheduled to meet to vote on split; Eitan Cabel charges "these MKs have decided to destroy party."

By JPOST.COM STAFF, REBECCA ANNA STOIL
January 17, 2011 09:13
2 minute read.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak

Barak stink-eye 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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Defense Minister and Labor party chair Ehud Barak, and four additional MKs, submitted a request on Monday to split from the party.

Barak, along with other ministers were set to hold a press conference on the issue at 10 a.m.



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Barak is expected to form a new faction that would include Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilani, Agricultural Minister Shalom Simhon, Deputy Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce Orit Noked, and MK Einat Wilf.

He is believed to have selected the name Independence (Haatzmaut) for the new faction.

Later in the morning, the House Committee is scheduled to meet to vote on the split.

House Committee Chairman Yariv Levin (Likud) received a letter signed by the five would-be members of the new faction asking to hold a vote to approve the faction's formation.



Notable in his absence from Barak's list is former Labor party ally Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben- Eliezer.

In reaction to the news, Labor MK and former faction head Eitan Cabel said that these MKs have decided "to destroy the party" by making this move.

Last week, Labor MK Daniel Ben-Simon announced his intention to retire from the Labor party and create a faction of one outside the coalition. It was not clear if his move was coordinated in any way with Barak.

He said, "I do not agree with the path chosen by the ruling coalition; I am tormented by this government, and I am calling for members of Labor to respond to my request." Ben-Simon's request awaits the majority approval of the Labor Party.

Barak has not approved Ben-Simon's decision to leave the party. Barak has said he will be the last of the signatures needed by Ben-Simon in order to split, and will not stop Ben-Simon if he succeeds in getting a majority of party member signatures.

Also last week, Minority Affairs Minister Avishay Braverman was expected to appeal to the Labor Party court, demanding that its governing council be convened within 30 days.

Braverman, who has been one of Labor Chairman Ehud Barak’s most vocal opponents in recent months, submitted a petition with over 500 signatures in December, calling on the party to hold a debate on the peace process.

In past weeks, Braverman’s supporters held talks with Labor Party officials in an attempt to reach a mutually agreed-upon date for such a meeting, with mid-February pegged as a likely timeframe, but the parties failed to reach an agreement.

“We regret that in spite of our willingness for compromise, a date has still yet to be set for the council’s meeting, and we believe that the party court will act quickly in order to uphold the party’s constitution as written,” Braverman’s office said in a statement.

Last Sunday, Barak released a statement agreeing for the first time to hold a Labor convention that could decide whether or not the party would stay in the coalition.

Reports last week said that former Labor party leader and MK Amir Peretz was considering moving to Kadima, which the MK vehemently denied.

Gil Hoffman contributed to this report

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