MK Ben-Simon not quitting Labor yet

Contrary to impression given by 'Ha'aretz' article, Labor faction chairman tells 'Post' he won't run with a different party in the near future.

MK ben-simon labor 248 aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
MK ben-simon labor 248 aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Labor faction chairman Daniel Ben-Simon is not considering leaving the Labor Party at this stage, contrary to the impression given by an article in Haaretz, the MK said. Ben-Simon, who worked for Haaretz until he decided to enter politics, told The Jerusalem Post he was mulling running with a different party in the next election if the differences in Labor were not resolved soon, but that he was staying put for the foreseeable future. "It's not something that will be happening tomorrow," he said. Ben-Simon has been lobbied by four Labor rebel lawmakers who want to break off from the party to protest its joining Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's coalition. The MKs need a fifth to obtain the third of the faction necessary for a split. But Ben-Simon accepted Labor's decision to join the government. He has since praised Netanyahu following his June 14 Bar-Ilan University policy speech, and Netanyahu invited the francophone MK to his meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy to strengthen his ties to him. Ben-Simon did, however, confirm a report that he was considering leaving his post as faction chairman when the Knesset's recess begins at the end of the month if his party remained as divided as it is now. "Instead of the head of one Labor faction, I am the head of the federations of factions in Labor," he said in an interview with Radius Radio. "I am head of 13 different factions. I say in tremendous pain that the founding party of the state has become barely a party, barely a joke. It's members don't talk to one another." Ben-Simon predicted that Labor's voters would punish the party in the next election if its problems were not fixed. He did not rule out that Labor would run in the next election as part of Kadima. The Labor faction has not met in weeks because party chairman Ehud Barak has been out of town or too busy during its regular meeting time on Mondays. He will miss this Monday as well, because he will be meeting in London with American envoy George Mitchell. The last time the Labor faction met, the room was half empty. Ben-Simon declined to address Sarkozy's critical comments about Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman of Israel Beiteinu. But he said he was impressed by the bond he saw between Netanyahu and Sarkozy.