Labor ministers may quit if talks with PA break down

Herzog warns of "dramatic impact" if negotiations reach a stalemate; National Union says it’s ready to join coalition.

yaacov katz 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
yaacov katz 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The resumption of construction in Judea and Samaria and a subsequent departure of the Palestinians from the negotiating table could result in Labor leaving the government and getting replaced by the far-right National Union Party, Labor officials said over the weekend.
Labor ministers expressed hope that their party chairman, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, would find a solution to the crisis over Sunday night’s end to the 10- month construction moratorium.
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But they said that if he doesn’t, they would demand an urgent meeting to reassess the party’s future.
“There is no doubt that if the talks reach a stalemate, it will have a dramatic impact on the political reality in Israel,” Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog told Army Radio on Friday.
Spokespeople for Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon and Minorities Affairs Minister Avishay Braverman reiterated their past statements that “if the talks break down, Labor has no reason to remain, because that was why we entered the government in the first place.”
National Union chairman Ya’acov Katz told The Jerusalem Post that he expected to become a minister in the near future. He said he expected the clash between right- and left-wing ministers in the coalition over the renewed construction to result in Labor leaving and opening a vacancy for his party.
“We will be in the coalition,” Katz said emphatically. “Herzog and Braverman will force Barak to leave. Then the prime minister will need a coalition and we will be there for him.”
Asked whether he expected to succeed Simhon as agriculture minister, Katz replied with all seriousness that he would demand the Defense portfolio.
Kadima issued a statement calling upon Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to resume building only in the major settlement blocs. The party said it would back Netanyahu if he found a way to keep the Palestinians at the negotiating table.
“The moment of truth has come and we expect you to prove that you are a statesman,” Kadima’s deputy faction chairman Yohanan Plesner said.
“I have no doubt that if you adopt a daring diplomatic plan, Kadima will grant you full support and a political security net to advance to a diplomatic agreement.
But if you put narrow political calculations ahead of the national interest, Kadima will work to bring you down and replace you.”
Sources close to Netanyahu said it was too soon to speculate about the fate of the coalition. They expressed hope that a compromise with the Palestinians could still be found.
“We still have more than 24 hours,” they said on Saturday night. “In politics, that is a long time.”