Labor pushes off vote on leaving gov't

Peretz urges delay due to Sderot attacks; party endorses Avital for president.

jp.services2 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
The Labor Party will remain in Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government after the party's central committee decided on Friday in a meeting at Tel Aviv's Dan Panorama Hotel to delay a vote on quitting the coalition. Labor chairman Amir Peretz asked committee members not to hold a political vote due to the rocket attacks on his hometown of Sderot. Instead, the committee will reconvene after a leader is selected in the May 28 primary or a June 11 runoff race. "Anything that happens today will be seen as disconnected from reality," Peretz said. "The public expects us to deal with the security issue and the people who live in the area around the Gaza Strip. So let's agree that this will be an open-ended discussion, and the real decisions will be made in another meeting after a chairman is chosen." Labor leadership candidate Ophir Paz-Pines attempted to persuade committee members to vote in favor of leaving the government now in an effort to force Kadima to replace Olmert, due to his responsibility for the failures of the Second Lebanon War. "Let's admit the truth," Paz-Pines said. "Whoever wants to delay the vote wants to remain in Olmert's government. If anyone in the world believes Israel can sweep Winograd under the rug and allow Olmert to continue to be prime minister, he should stand up and admit it." Paz-Pines cited a poll published in Ma'ariv on Friday that found that an overwhelming majority of Labor members favor quitting the government. "The Olmert government has reached the end, and we have to be the ones that take the step that the public wants us to take," Paz-Pines said. "We can force the failed prime minister to go home. How much shame can we swallow - investigations, failures, survival at any price?" Paz-Pines was backed up by demonstrators outside the event, led by former IDF chief of General Staff Uzi Dayan. The demonstrators included many employees of Israel Electric, who are upset with National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer's plans to privatize the company. The central committee also decided to endorse Labor MK Colette Avital's candidacy for president.