(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Former MK Ophir Paz-Pines mocked his former “Labor rebel” colleagues for announcing their return to their party’s Knesset faction Monday on the same day when party chairman Ehud Barak reportedly authorized new construction in the haredi West Bank settlement Betar Illit.
Paz-Pines, who now teaches at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center, said he was satisfied with his decision to quit politics, despite allegations from the rebels that had he stayed, they would have been able to break off from Labor.
“I understand why they are shifting the blame to me,” Paz-Pines said. “But they know very well why what we wanted to happen, never did. I wish them well, despite the way things ended.”
Rebel MKs Eitan Cabel and Amir Peretz marked their return to the faction by vowing to continue their quest to remove the party from the coalition and bring down Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government.
They were welcomed with open arms at the first faction meeting that they attended in more than a year, but they told their colleagues that they did not intend to be obedient.
“No one can say we are hanging a sign on the door that says the Labor family lives here happily,” Peretz said at a press conference. “The decision about our framework to fight has changed, but our views about the current situation have not shifted one iota. We don’t intend to pretend we have reconciled.”
Peretz and Cabel handed out copies of an agreement they reached with representatives of Labor chairman Ehud Barak that would have allowed them to break off from the faction. They said Barak disregarded the agreement when Paz-Pines quit the Knesset and ended chances of obtaining the five votes necessary to split Labor legally.
“History is full of Bolsheviks who took over parties but not their spirit,” Peretz said in harsh criticism of Barak. “The chairman of Labor took over the party, but not its spirit. Ehud Barak has to give back his mandate, because he, not us, violated the trust of his voters.”
Cabel said he would try to persuade the Labor faction to oppose the Finance Ministry’s plan for a two-year budget when it comes to a vote in the Knesset. He said he would focus his effort on swaying ministers Isaac Herzog and Avishay Braverman to quit the cabinet.
“I have nothing to apologize for,” Cabel said. “I am not a rebel who failed.”
Barak’s associates declined to respond to Cabel and Peretz’s charges that he broke a deal with them.
“The fact that Amir and Eitan are back is important,” Barak told the
faction. “I did not miss their criticism. I believe you can struggle
about ideology even in loud tones as long as the fight is professional
and not personal, and decisions of the party institutions of which we
are emissaries are respected.”