ben eliezer writing 311.
(photo credit: Eli Neeman)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu asked Industry, Trade and Labor Minister
Binyamin Ben- Eliezer to accompany him to his meeting with President Hosni
Mubarak in Egypt on Thursday, in an effort to persuade him to stay in the
coalition, but Ben-Eliezer’s associates say it didn’t work.
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who is close with the Egyptian leader, joined Netanyahu and Mubarak for
But his associates said afterward that he was looking for more
content and less pomp and circumstance.
“I don’t want a photo-op, I want
significant advancement in the peace process,” Ben-Eliezer told his confidants.
“The meeting was positive, but it’s definitely not enough. Talking to Mubarak
can help start a process, but it is not the process.”
that nothing of essence had changed since the beginning of the week when he
threatened to lead Labor out of the coalition if the diplomatic process with the
Palestinians did not make significant progress soon.
“The only way Bibi
will do anything is if we set a date when we could leave the coalition and he
believes the threat is real,” Ben-Eliezer said on Monday. “Labor will leave the
government within a month or two if there will not be significant progress in
the diplomatic process. If the negotiations are advanced, we will support it.
But if not, we are out. I will be the first to leave and I will drag the rest of
Labor after me.”
A Labor convention was supposed to take place this month
to vote on Minorities Affairs Minister Avishay Braverman’s proposal to quit
Netanyahu’s coalition if there is no progress in the diplomatic process. But
Labor chairman Ehud Barak has refused to allow the convention to meet before
March, and a date has not yet been set.
Ben-Eliezer’s support would be
essential to pass Braverman’s proposal in the convention and that’s why
Netanyahu has taken his threat to support leaving the coalition seriously. The
two men met to discuss the diplomatic process at the beginning of the
Besides taking Ben-Eliezer with him to Egypt, Netanyahu also
accepted his request to allow thousands of Palestinian workers into Israel and
invited him to a meeting of the inner security cabinet for the first time on
Ben-Eliezer’s associates said they had no idea whether the
invitation was permanent. Vice Premier Silvan Shalom (Likud) also was invited
for the first time.