Barak sitting Knesset.
(photo credit: Sebastian Scheiner/AP)
The Labor Party will remain in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s coalition for
another few months in hopes that US President Barack Obama will pressure the
Israeli government to make major concessions to advance the diplomatic process,
Labor ministers said Monday.
The Labor ministers hold the key to keeping
Netanyahu’s 74-MK coalition together. In a stormy meeting of the Labor faction
at the Knesset on Monday, members tried to push Labor chairman Ehud Barak to
issue an ultimatum to Netanyahu about leaving the coalition if the diplomatic
process was not advanced by a certain time.
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Barak at one point during the
meeting mentioned “between four weeks and four months” and even “by the end of
December” as possible deadlines.
But he ultimately rejected the
ministers’ plea to issue an ultimatum, and his spokesman would only say
officially that “during this Knesset session [which runs through the end of
March], Labor’s path will be decided.”
Labor ministers pointed fingers at
each other during the meeting about who gave Ma’ariv a headline about efforts to
topple Barak as Labor leader. The most likely suspects, Welfare and Social
Services Minister Isaac Herzog and Minorities Affairs Minister Avishay
Braverman, both vigorously denied that they had leaked the report or that they
were working to topple Barak.
Braverman said that “everyone knows that
when I want to attack, I don’t do it anonymously,” while Herzog said, “I believe
we have to act openly.”
Barak’s associates said they believed the
headline came from both potential contenders for the Labor
“We intend to lead an effort to advance the primary
[currently set for October 2012] to next year,” the report quoted an anonymous
minister as saying. “If we don’t topple him, he will destroy Labor once and for
Both Herzog and Braverman have been very critical of Barak
Braverman compared Barak to a satellite disconnected from the
party. Herzog said Barak had to “look at himself in the mirror and ask himself
how he led the party from 19 seats to six.”
Advancing the primary would
require a complicated maneuver to change Labor’s constitution. But according to
the report, the anonymous minister said he believed he was sure he had enough
support to do it.
Sources close to Barak mocked the report on Monday,
saying that toppling Barak was next to impossible and that the ministers were
merely trying to flex their muscles and get headlines.