Labor rebels rejoin as ‘fifth column’

Hope to break up coalition in September, when settlement building freeze ends.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
March 8, 2010 02:20
2 minute read.
Labor rebels rejoin as ‘fifth column’

Eitan Cabel 298. (photo credit: Channel 10)

 
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The rebellion in Labor will end with a whimper on Monday when the two remaining rebel MKs, Eitan Cabel and Amir Peretz, call a press conference to announce their return to the Labor faction.

Cabel, Peretz, former MK Ophir Paz-Pines and soon-to-be former MK Yuli Tamir had rebelled against their party’s decision to join the coalition. But by the time they persuaded MK Daniel Ben-Simon to join them and give them the fifth vote necessary to split the faction, Paz-Pines quit the Knesset and was replaced by loyal Labor MK Einat Wilf.

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Tamir, who is slated to head the Shenkar Design College, would have resigned last month but Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin asked her to stay on in order to defend Israel as an MK on college campuses in the US. She will submit her resignation on May 1 and will be replaced by former minister Ghaleb Majadle.

At the press conference, Cabel, Peretz, and Ben-Simon are to announce that they will continue their efforts to persuade their colleagues to leave the coalition, but from now on, they will fight Labor chairman Ehud Barak from inside.

“We are going to be a fifth column inside Labor,” a source among the rebels said. “We will continue voting against the government on core issues. But since we failed to get our ministers to quit from outside, we decided to try a different strategy.”

A source among the rebels said their realistic aim was to persuade the party to leave the coalition in September, when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is scheduled to end the West Bank construction moratorium and restart building in the settlements.

But another source among the rebels said he did not think Labor would leave even then.

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“Even if Yitzhak Rabin would come back to life and tell Barak to leave, he wouldn’t,” the source said.

Labor’s faction chairman, Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon, said he would welcome the MKs’ return with open arms. He refused to gloat or declare victory over them in the internal battle inside Labor.

“We are glad that they are back and that they understand the reality we have found ourselves in,” Simhon said. “We don’t want them to fight us from inside or outside, but to join us in cooperation.”

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