Economy and Trade Minister Amir Peretz announced on Tuesday night that he will be leaving the Labor Party that he headed until Sunday in order to remain in the cabinet.
New Labor head Merav Michaeli announced on Monday that her first act as leader of the party would be to remove Labor from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.
She told Peretz and fellow Labor Party Minister Itzik Shmuli that if they wanted to remain ministers, they could not remain part of Labor.
Peretz chose to remain a minister under Netanyahu and leave the party. Shmuli is expected to follow suit.
“I have no intention to be dragged into the campaign of hate that you are creating,” Peretz wrote Michaeli.
Peretz said it would be wrong of him to quit the cabinet because it would mean one less vote from the Center-Left. He also said there was no reason to resign from a caretaker government.
Shmuli and Peretz will represent the Blue and White Party in the government instead of Labor.
When they decided to enter the government and Michaeli refused to be part of the coalition, Peretz could have had Michaeli removed from the party, but he chose not to do so.
Michaeli said she wished Peretz well but Labor would not be part of a corrupt government.
Peretz said he would quit the Knesset and Shmuli is expected to do the same.
The next candidate on the combined Labor-Meretz-Gesher list that ran in the last election is former Meretz MK Ilan Gilon, who has retired from politics.
The two candidates afterward are former Labor MKs Omer Bar-Lev and Revital Swid.