Labor braces for battle against budget

Former coalition chairman Yitzhaki slams Olmert's cabinet reshuffle.

avigdor yitzhaki 298 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
avigdor yitzhaki 298
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The Labor Party's ministers decided Thursday to challenge budget cuts in the Education Ministry and in the Israeli Arab sector, during a meeting at the party's Tel Aviv headquarters. The decision came a day after Labor chairman Ehud Barak and other Labor ministers criticized Wednesday's cabinet reshuffle. Barak said the appointment of Haim Ramon as vice premier was "problematic in every aspect - morally and politically." The ministers said the appointments reminded them of the end of Barak's own government. Meanwhile former coalition chairman Avigdor Yitzhaki lashed out at Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, accusing him of acting to ensure his own political survival in Wednesday's cabinet reshuffle and not for the good of the country. Yitzhaki said the ministers were not promoted for their professional skills but for personal or political reasons. He singled out new Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit, who he said was promoted "so he won't cause problems," and new Construction and Housing Minister Ze'ev Boim, who he said was promoted because he was Olmert's childhood friend in Binyamina. "The top of the pyramid is playing musical chairs to allow himself to survive," Yitzhaki told Israel Radio. "The country meanwhile is completely paralyzed." Yitzhaki said he left the Knesset ahead of Wednesday's vote on the appointments, because he was "disgusted." He said he was "very seriously considering quitting politics." If Yitzhaki were to quit, he would be replaced by his nemesis, Kadima director-general Yohanan Plessner. Olmert's deputy chief of staff, Ovad Yehezkel, accused Yitzhaki of being disloyal. "If your home is uncomfortable for you, you should choose other accommodations," Yehezkel told Israel Radio. "Olmert made Yitzhaki coalition chairman despite his lack of parliamentary experience and put his trust in him, but Yitzhaki responded from day one by not showing loyalty or willingness to cooperate."