Barak passes proposals to keep hold of Labor

Herzog blasts "pathetic and unfair" politics.

Labor chairman Ehud Barak succeeded in passing several key changes to the party's constitution in Sunday's Labor house committee meeting that will help him remain the party's leader for the foreseeable future. Ahead of the session, Barak reached deals with Histadrut Labor Federation chairman Ofer Eini, allowing them to pass almost anything they wanted in the meeting. The amended constitution now must pass what is expected to be a stormy Labor convention on Wednesday. The most controversial proposal sets the minimum requirement of party membership dating back 10 months to vote in a leadership race. Barak's critics said this would cause a repeat of the mass registration drives that marred past Labor primaries with charges of forgeries and fraud. At first, the committee voted to set the minimum period at 14 months, which would have required party members to pay dues twice, a change that would reduce the ability of candidates to pay the dues of registrants. But Barak then asked the committee members to overturn the decision and reduce it to 10 months, and they obliged. Barak also succeeded in passing a proposal that would delay the next Labor leadership race from April 2010 to just six months before the next general election. "People don't know what they are voting for," complained MK Ophir Paz-Pines, who left the meeting in disgust." They are just doing whatever the party chairman says, and it's just not right." Even Barak's No. 2, Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog, slammed Barak, who is usually his political ally. He said he might even boycott Wednesday's convention in protest. "I didn't get what I wanted," Herzog said. "I am angry and frustrated after a meeting that was so pathetic. It was a done deal before it started." Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon, who chairs the committee, released a statement saying that "key compromises were reached as a result of cooperation" in the three-hour meeting and that the constitution would pass on Wednesday.