Labor rebels reject outreach from Barak

Paz-Pines said he did not see himself ever cooperating with a "Netanyahu-Lieberman government.

ehud barak 248.88 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
ehud barak 248.88 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
The four Labor rebel MKs rejected a new effort by the party's cabinet ministers over the weekend to resolve the conflict between them and chairman Ehud Barak. At Labor's weekly ministerial meeting on Thursday, Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, who is close to the party chairman, proposed quelling Barak's opposition in the party by using political appointments. For instance, he suggested returning rebel MK Eitan Cabel to his former post of Labor faction chairman and giving the chairmanship of the Knesset Economics Committee to either MK Ophir Paz-Pines or MK Yuli Tamir. The rebel lawmakers rejected Ben-Eliezer's ideas out of hand. They said their battle against Barak and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was ideological and no political appointment could end the dispute. "I have no intention to return to being the security guard at the gate of a government I don't believe in," Cabel said. "Everything has been done to push me out of the party and it continues to go in a direction I disagree with. If we cared about jobs, we could have gotten them a long time ago." Paz-Pines said he did not see himself ever cooperating with a "Netanyahu-Lieberman government." Despite his problems with Barak, Paz-Pines did agree to attend a session with him and other Labor ministers about proposed changes to Labor's party constitution on Wednesday. It was the first time a rebel legislator participated in an official party meeting in some two months. But sources among the rebels said Paz-Pines's participation was not a sign that the party was becoming less divided. They said that Ben-Eliezer had actually made a split in Labor more likely by offering Cabel the faction chairmanship currently occupied by MK Daniel Ben-Simon. The four rebel MKs legally require a fifth MK to obtain the third of the faction necessary for a split, and they have actively lobbied Ben-Simon to join them. Ben-Eliezer expressed confidence that a solution could be found to settle the spat. "Labor is a family, and there can be disputes inside a family, but nonetheless we remain a family," he told Israel Radio from Kazakhstan.