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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
A split of the Labor Party never seemed closer than it did on Tuesday after MK Eitan Cabel quit as its secretary-general following rumors that he and his fellow Labor "rebels" were in danger of being expelled from the party.
Cabel submitted his resignation early in the morning in a letter addressed to Labor chairman Ehud Barak.
Hours later the party's legal adviser, Yoram Avrahami, resigned as well.
In the letter, Cabel said Labor legal adviser Yoram Avrahami had informed him on the previous evening that Barak had "sent his attorney and his personal assistant to submit [a request to the party's court] against me and other members, members of the real Labor Party, to expel us from the party that is our home."
Avrahami resigned in the early evening, also in protest of Barak's administration of the party.
"It was with extreme sorrow that I came to the conclusion this morning that the political home that you are creating to your dimensions is no longer my house," Cabel said.
He said that starting on Wednesday, he would function as a regular Labor MK "to return the glory to the party in order to return to the way of Rabin and Ben-Gurion."
He blasted Barak, saying that "you need a courtier, not a secretary-general or a director-general, and I am not one."
Cabel concluded the letter, copies of which he sent to all 13 Labor MKs, by saying that "the skies may have darkened in our party, but in our time, a sun will shine at a new dawn."
His fellow rebels - Labor lawmakers who opposed joining Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's coalition - responded to Cabel's call, portraying the resignation as a last-ditch effort prior to a divorce within the once-powerful party.
"Cabel's decision brings to light Barak's anti-democratic proceedings," MK Amir Peretz said. "It turns out that Barak is interested in appointing yes-men without spines who will carry out his orders. He is pushing the Labor Party toward a serious rupture that can begin with separation, continue with 'disengagement' and end with division into two parties."
"Cabel's decision is a genuine alarm blast that demands that Barak come to his senses and preserve the Labor Party as a true party and not a party that has become part of the right-wing bloc," Peretz said.
The Labor Young Guard issued an announcement saying "the resignation of Cabel shows that the time has come for a split. The age of the Labor Party in which there is only room for Barak and his cronies has come to an end."
Young Guard chairman Ma'ayan Amoda'i that his activists were "surprised and disappointed" and would lobby Labor legislators to vote to split the party's Knesset faction.
They would need to convince five Labor MKs to join in to gain the one-third ratio required for a faction split. Labor rebel Shelly Yacimovich is reportedly adamantly opposed to such a division, leaving only four votes in favor of a break within the party.