Labor MKs call for party unity at pre-Passover toast

The message at the Labor Party's pre-Passover toast Thursday evening was one of party unity and the run-up to elections, but the absence of MK Amir Peretz and his close ally MK Yoram Marciano served as a striking reminder that party unity remains elusive. "I hope that from this meeting we can come out unified, put the fights aside and to unite as one family," said National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezar, in a message echoed by other party heavy-hitters. At the festive event, held at the party's Hatikva-neighborhood Tel Aviv headquarters, MKs also expressed optimism that the fractious party was turning over a new leaf in its popularity among Israeli voters. "The color is returning to the party and whoever eulogized it made a critical error," said Welfare Minister Yitzhak Herzog. Agricultural Minister Shalom Simhon repeated Herzog's sentiments and even taking them a step further, saying that if the party could only learn to work together, "Ehud Barak will be prime minister of the State of Israel in less than a year."