Braverman: Labor should quit gov’t if freeze not renewed

Other party ministers suggest waiting to see whether new US diplomatic approach works; criticizes Barak, says "such leadership has no place here."

December 9, 2010 04:39
3 minute read.
Labor MK Avishai Braverman.

311_Avishai Braverman. (photo credit: Associated Press)

Labor must give Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu an ultimatum that the party will leave his coalition if a construction moratorium is not renewed in Judea and Samaria, Minority Affairs Minister Avishay Braverman said Wednesday.

Braverman issued the threat despite the American announcement on Tuesday that the US was no longer asking for a settlement freeze and was instead seeking other approaches to advance the diplomatic process.

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Over the past 10 days, Braverman obtained the signatures of 500 Labor Central Committee members demanding a party convention to debate leaving the government. He vowed to pass a proposal at the convention demanding a freeze.

“If it passes, the prime minister will have to choose between us and a right-wing government that would make him very unpopular in Israel and around the world and would lose him the next election,” Braverman said. “If the convention votes against my proposal, I will quit and lead the opposition in Labor.”

European politicians have been pushing Braverman in recent weeks to force Labor chairman Ehud Barak to take Labor out of the coalition.

While Labor rebel MKs who have been pressuring him to quit for months expressed skepticism on Wednesday, Braverman said that this time he was sincere.

“Labor is in a free-fall because the public sees us as a hypocritical party that would stay in the government at any price,” Braverman said. “I told Barak that if we continue this way, we will be bungee jumping without a rope.”

Braverman said he opposed the proposal of his fellow Labor leadership candidate, Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog, to advance the next party primary that is currently set for October 2012.

Braverman believes the race should be held after the party quits the coalition.

“We shouldn’t be dealing with personal issues and primaries until we right our sinking ship,” he said.

All the other Labor ministers said the change in the American diplomatic approach needed to be given a chance before the party reconsidered its place in the coalition. They expressed hope that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s speech at this weekend’s Saban Forum and Barak’s meetings with American and Palestinian officials at the event could bear fruit.

“Let’s let the dust settle over the next few days before we see where we stand,” sources close to Herzog said. “We need to start solving the core issues of the conflict now more than ever.”

Sources close to Barak said that if Braverman did not like his job, he was free to go and was “very replaceable.”

Labor MK Daniel Ben-Simon, meanwhile, told the annual meeting between Israeli and European parliamentarians in Brussels on Wednesday that if the negotiations were not resumed, Netanyahu could lose the Labor Party.

“We are here [in the coalition] under the condition that there is a dialogue. If things are blocked, I think that my party will leave [the coalition],” said Ben-Simon.

A peace agreement signed by the Right is more significant than one signed by the Left, said Ben-Simon.

This has been true from the time of former prime minister Menachem Begin to former prime minister Ariel Sharon, he added.

“Netanyahu has been brought by history to this crossroads,” he said. “It is not a question of will there be peace, but how will we bring it about, what will the details be? “In the weeks to come, we will find out if Netanyahu is a political leader who wants to follow Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon. I hope he is there to make history and to write history,” Ben-Simon said. “It is high time to give hope to a generation which has grown up in war.”

Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report from Brussels.

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