Marciano boasts of 'screwing' Labor

MK joins Peretz in helping opposition pass bill to raise IDF salaries.

MarcianoYoram 224 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
MarcianoYoram 224
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The battle between former Labor Party leader Amir Peretz and his successor, Ehud Barak, reached new heights Wednesday when Peretz and his ally, MK Yoram Marciano, helped the opposition pass a bill that the government opposed. Ahead of the vote, Peretz and Marciano lobbied MKs to ensure its passage in its preliminary reading. On his way out of the plenum, Marciano was overheard telling confidants that "we screwed them," referring to Barak and other Labor leaders. Barak had warned Peretz on Monday that if he continued to act independently, he would "be shown the door." He pleaded with him not to raise the bill that passed on Wednesday. A source close to Barak said Wednesday that Peretz was "immature," and scoffed at the notion that two MKs could threaten his leadership. Another Labor source went further, accusing Peretz and Marciano of acting out of revenge against Barak, who had fired them from the Defense Ministry and the Labor faction chairmanship. "The vote symbolizes the path that Peretz and Marciano are taking out of Labor," the Labor source said. "This is a rift that cannot be healed." The bill, which passed its preliminary reading by a 41-38 vote, would set IDF enlistees' salaries pegged to the minimum wage, meaning that a non-combat soldier who currently earns approximately NIS 350 per month would earn closer to NIS 3,800 should the law be approved. Among those vehemently opposed to the law was Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On (Kadima), who complained that the proposal would not only be devastatingly expensive to the defense budget, but also held serious consequences for the role of IDF service in society. "This is a flawed proposal that hurts the values with which we were educated - of serving the state and of giving for the sake of the state," said Bar-On. He emphasized that this was not the first time such a proposal had been aired, and that the government strongly opposed it, but that the topic had been discussed earlier in the day during the security cabinet meeting. Peretz, on the other hand, rejected the idea that his plan would harm the ethical basis of IDF service. "There is no chance that draftees will see this money as the central factor," Peretz said in response to Bar-On's comments. "I think soldiers in Israel are drafted because they first and foremost want to serve their country, and to do this on the basis of their values, and no Knesset will change those values." Later in the afternoon, the Knesset also approved a preliminary reading of a law proposed by MK Alex Miller (Israel Beiteinu) that would exempt "lone soldiers" from paying mandatory television fees. Meanwhile, Labor faction chairman Eitan Cabel announced Wednesday that he would leave the position once the Knesset recess began at the end of next week. The move was expected, because Cabel entered the job on the condition that it would be temporary. MKs Colette Avital and Orit Noked are expected to compete for the post in a vote that will be held next week.