avishay braverman 298.
(photo credit: AP [file])
Finance Minister Avraham Hirchson will meet with Defense Minister Amir Peretz and the party's three representatives on the Knesset Finance Committee at the Prime Minister's Office on Sunday evening in a meeting that could decide the coalition's fate.
The Finance Committee is set to vote on Monday on an NIS 2 billion budget cut intended to finance the war in Lebanon. The vote has been delayed three times in an effort to achieve a majority for the cut.
Coalition chairman Avigdor Yitzhaki said that if he is unable to pass the cut, Olmert should replace Labor in the government with right-wing parties.
Committee chairman Ya'acov Litzman convened the committee on Thursday to protest Hirchson's delaying the vote. Representatives on the committee from other parties said it was unfair that the finance minister was negotiating with Labor after declining to explain the cut to the rest of the members of the committee.
Labor MKs Avishay Braverman, Orit Noked and Shelley Yacimovich said they would try to convince Hirchson to take the funds from NIS 13 billion in budget reserves instead of cutting the budgets of cabinet ministries. Braverman said that if Hirchson does not agree to his demand, he would vote against the cut and prevent it from passing.
A Finance Ministry official said over the weekend that the proposal that would be voted on in the Finance Committee would not change despite Labor's demands. Peretz has expressed willingness to replace Labor's Finance Committee members with MKs who would support the cuts, but Braverman said he would refuse to be replaced.
In an interview with Channel 2 on Saturday, Braverman accused Peretz of abandoning Labor's socioeconomic platform. He said Labor made a mistake when it took the Defense portfolio instead of socioeconomic portfolios.
In an attack on Peretz, who brought him into the party, Braverman noted that there was no need for Labor to focus on defense-related issues at the expense of taking care of the weaker classes. He said that, together with MK Ami Ayalon, he intended to change Labor's focus back to socioeconomic affairs. Braverman and Ayalon have agreed on an alliance whereby one would not run against the other for the party leadership.
In a Dahaf Institute poll published over the weekend in Yediot Aharonot, 27 percent of Israelis said they favored holding immediate elections, 20% said a national unity government should be formed, 19% said there should be no change in the government, 16% said right-wing parties should replace Labor in the coalition and 14% said right-wing parties should be added without removing Labor.
The poll found that 63% of Israelis believe that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert should quit, 74% said Peretz should resign and 54% said IDF Chief of General Staff Dan Halutz should lose his job.