Labor in furor over calls for Barak to step down

"Peretz couldn't wait to say I told you so," party heads charge.

barak following elections 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
barak following elections 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Tensions in the Labor Party reached a boiling point Sunday, following remarks made over the weekend by former Labor chairman MK Amir Peretz in which he insinuated that his successor Ehud Barak should resign in the wake of the party's dismal results in last week's general elections. Talking to Channel 2's Meet the Press program on Saturday Peretz said: "If I were the [Labor] chairman I would draw conclusions and resign." Peretz, who led Labor in the 2006 elections, added that Barak should lead the party into the opposition and set a date for a primary. Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on Sunday, several prominent Labor ministers and MKs agreed the party should sit in the opposition, but calls for Barak to resign were premature. "Peretz simply couldn't wait to tell everyone he had told everybody so," a Labor Party source said. "It was urgent for him to remind everyone that he led Labor to 19 Knesset seats and Barak [to] only 13," the source added. Sources close to Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog and MK Ophir Paz-Pines, two sure-fire candidates to compete in the next race for the party's leadership, said they didn't think Barak needed to resign. "Peretz doesn't see the whole picture, he doesn't understand that the entire Left-wing bloc was struck and not just Labor," one of them said. "Now, the big question is whether Livni goes into the opposition or not. That will determine the next move for a lot of people," the source added. A spokeswoman for Peretz fended off criticism, saying: "Peretz did not call on Barak to resign. He said clearly that Labor needed to sit in the opposition where it can rehabilitate itself and work to overcome the deep crisis it is in. He demanded that Barak establish a special team to lead the party to a primary within 14 months, as required by party bylaws, and he announced his plans to run in the primary." A source close to Barak said that he was not planning to resign as party leader any time soon. Meanwhile, posting in her personal blog Sunday, MK Shelly Yacimovich wrote that it was inconceivable that Labor would even consider joining a coalition government, however sources close to the former TV journalist said she had no plans to run for the party leadership and didn't think Barak should resign. "There are still some [in the party] who are digging for excuses to sit in a bearable coalition, just in order 'to save the country' and, some would say, just to keep their seats," Yacimovich wrote. "She doesn't think her time has come," the source said of rumors that Yacimovich was considering a run for the Labor chair. "She thinks Barak shouldn't resign yet and that it is time to make efforts to rehabilitate the party."