Barak tells Wilf: You will be an MK

Labor Party convention on August 5 could hasten split.

Einat Wilf 248.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Einat Wilf 248.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Labor Party chairman Ehud Barak met with the 14th candidate on his party list, Harvard-educated consultant Einat Wilf, on Monday, vowing that she would enter the Knesset within a year. Last month, the Knesset approved the first reading of the so-called "mini-Norwegian law," which will allow one minister from each party in the coalition to resign from the Knesset in favor of the next name on their party's Knesset candidate list and then return to the Knesset if they quit the cabinet. It is expected to be brought for its final readings as early as next week. Every coalition party supports the bill, except for Labor, where ministers Ehud Barak, Isaac Herzog, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, Shalom Simhon, and Avishay Braverman are all refusing to quit the Knesset for Wilf. Barak and Wilf did not yet discuss compelling one of the ministers to resign on her behalf. Instead, they discussed the future direction of Labor. Barak is eager to persuade Wilf to be a loyal Labor MK and not join the four Labor rebel MKs, who need a fifth to receive the third of the faction needed to split it. Like Labor rebels MKs Ophir Paz-Pines, Eitan Cabel, Yuli Tamir and Amir Peretz, Wilf opposed joining the coalition. But she has denied claims from the rebels that she would help them split the party. A source among the Labor rebels said that even if Wilf would not join them, a split was inevitable. "There is no question that the split will happen," the source said. "It's a done deal. It's not an if. It's a when." All the rebel MKs have issued amendments to the budget and arrangements bill, something usually done only by the opposition. Cabel even said in a recent radio interviews that "mentally" he already did not consider himself part of Labor. One potential breaking point will take place when Labor holds its long-awaited party constitutional convention on August 5. The convention has been delayed four times while Barak negotiates with his political opponents changes to the party's constitution that would increase his power in the party and make it nearly impossible to topple him. Labor rebel MKs accused Barak of acting anti-democratically for setting the convention for August, when many delegates will be on vacation and party meetings are traditionally not scheduled. They noted that for that reason, the Likud delayed its central committee meeting to September and Kadima held its council meeting last week. But Barak's spokesman said the scheduling was not malicious. "There was no choice, because we are pressured for time," a Barak associate said. "If they don't accept the rules of the game, they don't have to play."