Pines may leave Labor if Barak stays after Winograd

MK says he will not remain in politics or in Labor at any price.

paz pines 298 aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
paz pines 298 aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Labor chairman Ehud Barak's decision on whether to honor his campaign promise to leave Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government upon the Winograd Report's publication became more complicated Sunday when Labor MK Ophir Paz-Pines hinted he could take drastic measures if Barak did not quit. Barak made the promise in a press conference with Paz-Pines in June when the latter agreed to support Barak's candidacy in a runoff race for the Labor leadership against current Minister-without-Portfolio Ami Ayalon. "[The Winograd Report] requires personal conclusions," Barak said at the time. "Olmert must seek personal conclusions and resign, as Dan Halutz and Amir Peretz did, each in their own way. If Olmert does not [quit] by the full report's publication, we will have to end our partnership with him and work to establish a new government in the current Knesset - or alternatively, to set a date for elections." Israel Radio reported on Sunday that Paz-Pines was in contact with the Green Party about possibly heading its list in the next election. The report said Paz-Pines would also consider forcing another primary in Labor, or perhaps quitting politics entirely. The report quoted Paz-Pines as telling a Labor activist that he felt he was being pushed out of Labor and toward the Greens. Paz-Pines also reportedly told Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon that if the latter supported the restoration of the Religious Affairs Ministry, the two men did not belong in the same party. "I didn't approach the Greens or any other party," Paz-Pines told The Jerusalem Post in response to the report. "I want to remain in Labor. But I am not in politics or in Labor at any price." Paz-Pines also slammed both Olmert and Barak for not taking steps to remove illegal West Bank outposts. The Labor central committee meeting that passed the wording of Barak's promise to Paz-Pines about leaving the government also passed Paz-Pines's proposal to not hold an additional Labor leadership race ahead of the next general election. Both decisions would require additional approval in other Labor institutions that have not convened. "I still think it would be wrong to hold another primary," Paz-Pines said. "It's not on my agenda. But it would not surprise me if someone raised the idea." Barak's spokesman said in response that "the defense minister will do what is right for the country regardless of Paz-Pines."