Amir Peretz and Labor 4 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The eight remaining members of the Labor faction will convene at the Knesset on
Wednesday for their first meeting since Defense Minister Ehud Barak left the
party along with four allies and started the new Independence
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The remnants of Labor were bolstered by a decision by four
wavering Labor MKs on Tuesday to stay in the party – at least temporarily –
despite seriously contemplating their departure. But their decision to remain
could make it harder for Labor to decide key issues, like who their temporary
party chairman and faction chairman will be and how and when to elect
MKs Amir Peretz, Eitan Cabel, Daniel Ben-Simon and Ghaleb Majadle
ruled out an idea proposed by outgoing Minority Affairs Minister Avishay
Braverman to appoint the party’s elder statesman, outgoing Industry, Trade and
Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, 74, as temporary Labor chairman.
four MKs prefer not to see anyone appointed to the position. They also want to
elect a new Labor secretarygeneral, disband the party’s institutions, and
rewrite its constitution.
“The party has endured an earthquake, and that
means we have to start rebuilding everything all over again,” Cabel
Some Labor MKs spoke on Tuesday about making Labor
secretary-general Hilik Bar the party’s temporary leader. Others said they
preferred appointing a mayor like Tel Aviv’s Ron Huldai or a respected former
minister such as Avraham Shochat, Moshe Shahal or Micha Harish.
temporary chairman is selected, the party will have to decide when to elect a
Outgoing Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac
Herzog, who is running for the job, wants the election held as soon as possible,
while other candidates want the race held later.
Those disputes and
others are expected to be fought out in the open at Thursday’s Labor Executive
Committee meeting at the party’s headquarters in Kfar Saba. That meeting will be
the first attended by Peretz and his allies since a Labor convention decided,
over their objections, to enter Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s coalition in
At a Knesset press conference on Tuesday, Peretz slammed the Labor
lawmakers who had accepted portfolios in Netanyahu’s government for “sanctifying
coalition discipline above all else.” But he said they needed to be given an
opportunity to prove that their penitence was genuine.
“We could have
decided to leave today, but we instead decided to give the Labor faction another
chance,” Peretz said. “Contrary to incorrect reports, we never negotiated with
another party, including Kadima.
We’re the new Labor, and we know what
the party has to do to recover.”
Until Monday, Peretz and his three
allies were dead set on leaving the party, which would have left it with only
four MKs. Ben-Simon was the first to change his mind, followed by Majadle and
Cabel. Peretz only relented at the end.
Herzog praised their decision to
stay, calling it a “correct and principled move that will help rehabilitate the