Abbas: Political crisis will harm peace talks

Abbas voices concerns; Likud forecasts "big challenges;" Cabel: Barak's words were significant.

eitan cabel disapproves (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
eitan cabel disapproves
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The political crisis in Israel will harm the peace process with the Palestinians, a spokesperson for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas claimed on Wednesday. "There is no doubt that the goings on will negatively effect the negotiations," the spokesperson said after the press conference during which Defense Minister Ehud Barak called on Olmert to step down. MKs were also quick to respond to Barak's comments, and the Likud party called for new elections to be held as soon as possible. Labor secretary-general Eitan Cabel said that the deadline for elections would be in July, at the end of the summer Knesset session, and that he believed there was "sufficient time to solve the bureaucratic problems in Kadima." Additionally, Cabel said that the defense minister's call for Olmert to step aside was indeed "significant" and that he had wanted Barak to make the announcement for some time. In contrast, another Labor MK, Yoram Marciano, commented that he was dissatisfied with Barak's comments as they "lacked sufficient strength." "Barak lied when he said that he consulted with the faction. He just told us what he said a few minutes later in the press conference. If he wanted to do something dramatic he would have quit the coalition, but he didn't," Marciano continued. "Barak made two mistakes - he didn't set a deadline and he gave the ball back to Kadima instead of letting Labor decide. People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones." Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) said that he wouldn't enter a "personal battle between Ehud and Ehud." "I've spoken to all sides already and I will relay the situation to the Council of Torah Sages," he said. "Every recent PM has been investigated and so I'm not going to get emotional about this," Yishai continued, stressing that he was still supporting Olmert. Kadima MK Ronit Tirosh had harsh words for the suggestion that Olmert step down. "Someone who can't manage his own party shouldn't tell Kadima how to run ours," she said. An official Likud statement issued following Barak's remarks said "stop playing political games. The big challenges ahead of the state obligate elections and a new government. Likud calls all the factions to get together and set a date for elections." MK Zevulun Orlev (NU-NRP) voiced his concern that Barak would "repeat the false promises he made at Kibbutz Sdot Yam at his infamous press conference in June 2007," referring to Barak's pledge to step down from his post as defense minister after the release of the Winograd Report. "Barak will continue to fail to keep his promises," Orlev continued. "Instead of taking a serious step to end Olmert's government and advance elections, Barak chose an unclear statement with no timetable."