Labor Party chairman-elect Ehud Barak and outgoing chairman Amir Peretz met on Thursday morning and agreed to bury their past differences and cooperate for the "future of the party," Israel Radio reported. Barak was also expected to meet with with MK Ami Ayalon. Six years after resigning as Labor chairman, Barak returned to the political limelight by defeating MK Ami Ayalon overnight Tuesday by a 3.4 percent margin in the party's leadership race, 51.2% to 47.8%. Supporters waited at party headquarters in Tel Aviv until 2 a.m. Wednesday to celebrate his return to power. Many of them said the vote was just the first step on the way back to the Prime Minister's Office, where Barak served from 1999 to 2001 before being defeated by Ariel Sharon.
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MK Eitan Cabel, the party's secretary-general, even introduced him as a candidate for prime minister.
Barak began by thanking the outgoing chairman. "I come before you today as head of the Labor Party in place of Amir Peretz, and I want to thank him for his leadership."
Flanked by Cabel and Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog, Barak also paid tribute to Labor MKs, calling them the best political team in the country.
"I intend to lead together with the wonderful team we have, together with Ami [Ayalon] and other Labor members," he said.
He addressed the divisions that he said were harming the party and the country.
"We will seek that which binds us together out of a sense of mission and basic responsibility to the existence of Israeli society and the security of the state," Barak said. He added that he would devote all his energies to strengthening the army and the security establishment.
National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said he was certain Barak was already looking to prepare the party for national elections.