Activists slam Barak for failure to halt Shas demands

MK Sneh, Labor activists complain that Shas succeeded in advancing settlement construction, other causes while Labor's presence in gov't not felt.

sneh aj 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
sneh aj 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Labor chairman Ehud Barak faced fierce criticism at the party's executive committee meeting in Tel Aviv Wednesday for not doing enough to prevent the government from expanding West Bank settlements. MK Ephraim Sneh and a few Labor activists complained that Shas had succeeded in advancing settlement construction and its other causes while Labor's presence in the government had not been felt. "[Shas chairman] Eli Yishai is celebrating his victory," Sneh told the crowd at Labor's Tel Aviv headquarters. "Where are we on this issue? I am pointing a finger at us. Whoever builds in Judea and Samaria is not helping the peace process but getting in the way. Why are we lending a hand to it? It's being done not because we want it, but because Eli Yishai is extorting the government, and I don't see our MKs objecting." Sneh told reporters after the event that the government was acting according to Shas's ideology even though Labor was Kadima's largest coalition partner. "A faction of 12 MKs is making the government into a circus, is building in the settlements and getting whatever it wants," Sneh said. "Building in the settlements is not Labor's way and a party that loses its way becomes irrelevant." Barak made no mention of Shas in his lengthy address, but Barak's ally, National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, slammed Sneh for questioning Barak and harming party unity. He accused Sneh of playing into the hands of Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu. "We are wasting our energy on whether there should be one house here or there," Ben-Eliezer said. "Our effort has to be focused on winning the next election." Barak said he would demand that Labor be given the chairmanship of the Knesset Finance Committee. His associates said his candidate for the post was MK Avishai Braverman. The Labor leader said he expected the next general election to take place within a year. He made the same statement shortly after he was elected Labor leader last June.