Barak hints financial debts will keep Labor in government

The Labor Party will have to remain in Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's coalition until the party takes care of its massive financial debts, Labor chairman Ehud Barak hinted in a speech to the party's executive committee at its Tel Aviv headquarters on Tuesday. Barak promised during his race for the Labor chairmanship that he would remove the party from the coalition and initiate an early election when the final Winograd report on the Second Lebanon War is released in October. But officials close to Barak said when the promise was made that an excuse would eventually be found to break it. "We cannot win an election as a charity case," Barak told the committee. "We will take care of [the financial problems] and after that face the political challenge ahead of us." Sources close to Barak said he did not intend to back down from his commitment to leave the government in the speech. They noted that Barak said he still believed there would be a general election in 2008, but they said it might have to be later in 2008 than he had originally intended.