‘PM not worried Labor will leave gov't’

Sources attribute Barak's calls for new diplomatic initiative to pressure.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
March 29, 2010 00:42
2 minute read.
Netanyahu arrives at the weekly cabinet meeting in

netanyahu arrives at cabinet meeting 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

 
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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is not concerned that the Labor Party will decide to bolt his coalition over the failure to advance the diplomatic process, sources close to Netanyahu said Sunday.

Labor chairman Ehud Barak came under fire from the other four ministers in his party at Sunday morning’s Labor ministerial meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office. The ministers demanded that he take action to push the diplomatic process forward and encourage Kadima to join the coalition at the expense of Israel Beiteinu.

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“We all told him that we joined the government in order to advance the peace process and to prevent Israel from being isolated,” Minister-without-portfolio Avishai Braverman said.

Hours later, Barak publicly called for a new diplomatic initiative that could lead to negotiations on Israel’s final borders and that of a demilitarized and contiguous Palestinian state.

Sources close to Netanyahu said that many politicians had issued such demands in private conversations with the prime minister, but that Barak was not one of them. They attributed Barak’s statements to “the pressure he is under from inside his party.”

Coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin said that Labor’s concerns would be resolved when the diplomatic process with the Palestinians restarts.

He said that Netanyahu had many reasons to begin talks with the Palestinians before Labor politicians started flexing their muscles, and would continue working to initiate the negotiations regardless of Labor.



“We are not worried about Labor yet, because what they are requesting will eventually be resolved,” Elkin said. “The fight with United Torah Judaism about the graves at Barzilai Hospital is a more pressing concern.”

Netanyahu’s office denied a Channel 10 report Sunday night that Prime Minister’s Office director-general Eyal Gabbai had already decided to remove the graves to build a new emergency room at the facility in Ashkelon despite Deputy health minister Ya’acov Litzman’s threats to leave the coalition. A spokeswoman for Gabbai said a decision would only be made after Passover.

On a tour of the proposed site of the emergency room, Kadima leader Tzipi Livni ruled out her party joining the coalition and bashed Netanyahu for bringing the world’s wrath upon the country.

“Israel requires different leadership and different policies that could persuade the United States and the world to adopt Israel’s interests,” Livni told reporters outside the hospital. “The prime minister chose his natural partners for political survival. He has no vision, and that is why the public and the world have voted no-confidence in his government. I wouldn’t join a government to stabilize it. There would have to be different leadership and different policies.”

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