Labor ministers: Without peace talks, we will leave gov't

Ministers respond to Barak's speech in US calling for division of J'lem per Clinton Parameters; Erdan says Barak doesn't represent gov't position.

By JPOST.COM STAFF, HILARY KRIEGER & HERB KEINON
December 12, 2010 10:31
3 minute read.
Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-El

ben eliezer writing 311. (photo credit: Eli Neeman)

 
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Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer (Labor) told Israel Radio Sunday morning that if there is no longer a political process with the Palestinians, including a discussion on core issues, that the Labor ministers should leave the government.

Ben-Eliezer said that "the coming weeks are critical, and that it will be decided in that time whether to begin talks on core issues or whether there will be continued foot-dragging that ends with a disaster for the state of Israel." He described that disastrous end as: "international pressure [on Israel], international isolation, the imposition of a solution on Israel and harm to its economy."

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Ben-Eliezer said that "the coming weeks are critical, and that it will be decided in that time whether to begin talks on core issues or whether there will be continued foot-dragging that ends with a disaster for the state of Israel." He described that disastrous end as: "international pressure [on Israel], international isolation, the imposition of a solution on Israel and harm to its economy."

The Labor minister was speaking in response to a speech Defense Minister Ehud Barak gave at the Brookings Institute's Saban Forum in Washington over the weekend. Regarding Jerusalem, Barak had described a solution that would split the city along the lines suggested by former US president Bill Clinton.

Also Sunday, Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog told Israel Radio that the prime minister must adopt the Clinton parameters for a final settlement with the Palestinians. He addded, "We will not be able to stay in the government if there is no political progress." The Labor minister continued, "We need to go talk about the core issues soon." He added that there is a "very short window of opportunity exists in the national-political" spectrum.

Herzog said that there is " a month or two, then the Labor council will meet and we will know if we are dealing with more painful topics."

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Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan on Sunday told Israel Radio, "It is neither logical nor in Israel's interest to negotiate with a stopwatch in hand," responding to renewed US calls for peace negotiations, AFP reported.

Speaking about the defense minister's Washington speech, he said that Barak "represents neither the government, nor the prime minister."

He added, that Netanyahu would "continue to work for peace with the understanding that its price will not threaten Israel's existence and future."



Last week, Minority Affairs Minister Avishay Braverman said Labor must give Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu an ultimatum that the party will leave his coalition if a West Bank building moratorium is not renewed .

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.”

“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.”

Israel expressed satisfaction on Saturday night that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton came out unequivocally against an imposed diplomatic solution in her Middle East policy speech a day earlier.

Gil Hoffman also contributed to this report.

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