Labor's Young Guard: Set primary date

Comes after Labor ministers, MKs and top activists warn Barak to stay out of Netanyahu's government if he wants to remain leader of the party.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN, JPOST.COM STAFF
March 6, 2009 05:24
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Netanyahu and Barak shake hands 248.88. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozlimski [file])

Ahead of further coalition talks between Ehud Barak and Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu, Labor's Young Guard on Friday called for a primary date to be set in order to choose a new party leader. Young Guard members met at Labor's Tel Aviv headquarters to voice their opposition to joining a Netanyahu-led government. Young Guard vice chairman Erez Abu said that joining such a government would be the party's death sentence, and that if Barak leads the party there, he would pay with his seat. "The party's chairman is degrading us, and we are losing faith in him," he said. "From the age of 16, I have been working hard for the party's successs. We won't let Barak put an end to it, Labor isn't a one man party. We will topple and destabilize the seat of anyone seeking to choke us." "We were shocked to discover the openness the party chairman received the sad, anonymous calls of former judges and military men that didn't have the courage or strength to say before the elections that we need Labor in the government," he quipped. "We made it clear to him that next time he meets Binyamin Netanyahu, we will torpedo the whole thing. It must be clear that this isn't a conventional situation. Young Guard head Maayan Amudai added that Barak sould keep to his word. "He said immediately after the elections results came out that the voter had given its verdict and that we need to be a fitting alternative," said Amudai. "Therefore, the discussions he is having now on joining up with Netanyahu has made us set an ultimatum to immediately call off the talks with Likud or we will be forced to act to oust him. He has brought his upon himself." Similarly, on Thursday, Labor ministers, MKs and top activists sent a clear message to Barak at a rally in Ramat Efal: Stay out of Netanyahu's government if you want to remain the leader of the party. Some 200 activists packed the auditorium and shouted down anyone who dared to speak in favor of joining the next coalition. Ministers Yuli Tamir and Ghaleb Majadle and MKs Eitan Cabel, Ophir Paz-Pines and Shelly Yacimovich spoke at the event. Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog, who is close to Barak, sent a note, saying he could not make it to the rally but that he supported heading to the opposition. "The choice is between the coalition, which would mean certain death for Labor, and the opposition, which guarantees nothing but would give the party a chance to survive," Cabel said. "It could take time. It could take four, maybe even eight years. Whoever doesn't have the patience should get off the train." Cabel called the fight against Barak to keep Labor out of the coalition "a battle for the little self-respect we have left." Paz-Pines, who quit Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's cabinet in November 2006, after Israel Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman joined it, said that if Labor joined a coalition where Netanyahu was prime minister and Lieberman was foreign minister, its cabinet members would be a "fig leaf for a right-wing extremist government." "Have we gone mad?" Paz-Pines asked the crowd. "Why are we arguing over something so elementary and basic? When you win an election, you go to the government. When you lose, you serve the people in the opposition. How complicated is that?" Former MK Hagai Merom was heckled by supporters of Barak when he called him "the loser-general" and accused him of fighting for his own survival rather than the party's. Eitan Ben-David, the secretary-general of the party's moshav sector, defended Barak and called for Labor to join the government-in-the-making. He warned that staying outside the government would dry up resources for cash-strapped agricultural communities. "We cannot go against the leader of our party," Ben-David said. "We need to let Barak listen to Netanyahu and see if he gets a good offer that he can bring to the party's institutions for approval. We cannot run from national responsibility during an economic crisis." Barak canceled a meeting with the heads of Labor sectors and branches after it became clear that the overwhelming majority of them opposed joining the next government. Labor ministers, MKs and top activists sent a clear message to party chairman Ehud Barak at a rally in Ramat Efal on Thursday: Stay out of Likud head Binyamin Netanyahu's government if you want to remain the leader of the party. Some 200 activists packed the auditorium and shouted down anyone who dared to speak in favor of joining the next coalition. Ministers Yuli Tamir and Ghaleb Majadle and MKs Eitan Cabel, Ophir Paz-Pines and Shelly Yacimovich spoke at the event. Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog, who is close to Barak, sent a note, saying he could not make it to the rally but that he supported heading to the opposition. "The choice is between the coalition, which would mean certain death for Labor, and the opposition, which guarantees nothing but would give the party a chance to survive," Cabel said. "It could take time. It could take four, maybe even eight years. Whoever doesn't have the patience should get off the train." Cabel called the fight against Barak to keep Labor out of the coalition "a battle for the little self-respect we have left." Paz-Pines, who quit Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's cabinet in November 2006, after Israel Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman joined it, said that if Labor joined a coalition where Netanyahu was prime minister and Lieberman was foreign minister, its cabinet members would be a "fig leaf for a right-wing extremist government." "Have we gone mad?" Paz-Pines asked the crowd. "Why are we arguing over something so elementary and basic? When you win an election, you go to the government. When you lose, you serve the people in the opposition. How complicated is that?" Former MK Hagai Merom was heckled by supporters of Barak when he called him "the loser-general" and accused him of fighting for his own survival rather than the party's. Eitan Ben-David, the secretary-general of the party's moshav sector, defended Barak and called for Labor to join the government-in-the-making. He warned that staying outside the government would dry up resources for cash-strapped agricultural communities. "We cannot go against the leader of our party," Ben-David said. "We need to let Barak listen to Netanyahu and see if he gets a good offer that he can bring to the party's institutions for approval. We cannot run from national responsibility during an economic crisis." Barak canceled a meeting with the heads of Labor sectors and branches after it became clear that the overwhelming majority of them opposed joining the next government. He is expected to meet with Netanyahu on Friday.


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