Barak to hold first post-Winograd event

Labor supporters disagree on whether Barak would join government led by Olmert.

ehud barak face298 88 aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
ehud barak face298 88 aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Candidate for Labor party chair Ehud Barak was scheduled on Tuesday to make his first public comments since the release of the Winograd report on the Second Lebanon War. On Tuesday evening, Barak will speak at Kibbutz Sdot Yam at the first campaign event to which the press has been invited since he declared his candidacy six months ago. Over the last few days, supporters in the Labor party have disagreed on whether Barak would agree to join a government headed by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. On Monday, Barak vigorously denied the reports of conversations with Labor ministers in which he had said he wouldn't join Olmert's government, assuring them that he had made no such decision. One of the Labor ministers said Barak told him he had Cabel leak the threat to the press to enable him to distance himself from Olmert in the minds of the party's voters. The minister said that if Barak won the chairmanship race, he could decide to play for time before deciding whether to enter the government, and wait for the Winograd Committee's final report to force Olmert to step down. Cabel said he stood by his statements. Sources close to Olmert lashed out at the Labor faction on Monday for deciding to allow its MKs to absent themselves from no-confidence motions and for continuing with threats to leave the coalition to protest Olmert's handing of the Second Lebanon War. If Labor were to leave the government, Olmert would be left with a minority coalition of 59 MKs. Negotiations have been continuing with Degel Hatorah MKs Avraham Ravitz and Moshe Gafni as an insurance policy in case Labor would leave. Olmert sent positive messages to Degel Hatorah, which together with Agudath Yisrael forms United Torah Judaism, by ensuring the passage of the haredi education bill in the Knesset on Monday and in the cabinet on Sunday. He also had Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann fight Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz to prevent the removal of Degel Hatorah-affiliated rabbinical court judges. "Everything is connected," a source close to Olmert involved in the negotiations with Degel Hatorah said. "Things with Degel Hatorah are progressing but we are not ready to sign anything yet." Asked whether talks with Degel had been expedited due to Labor's behavior, the source said, "We act before the headlines, not after." Although none of the no-confidence motions came close to passing, an MK close to Olmert threatened sanctions against rebellious Labor MKs, saying, "It can't go on like this."