PM reportedly to fire Labor party dissidents

Olmert's strategic advisor to Army Radio: A minister who votes for early elections cannot sit in cabinet.

olmert poser 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
olmert poser 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert intends to fire any Labor minister who votes in favor of a bill calling for the dispersal of the Knesset, Olmert's strategic advisor told Army Radio on Sunday. "A minister who calls for replacing the prime minister, and who votes in favor of early elections, cannot continue to sit in the Cabinet," Tal Zilberstein said, adding that while this was his personal opinion, he felt Olmert shared his sentiments. On Wednesday, a bill sponsored by MK Silvan Shalom (Likud) which calls for the current Knesset to be dissolved and for a November election date will be brought to the Knesset floor for a vote. A number of Labor ministers received notes during the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday informing them that if they voted in favor of the bill, they would be fired. According to his advisor, the prime minister was set to talk with Defense Minister Ehud Barak about his intentions after Sunday's cabinet meeting. A number of Labor ministers lashed out at Zilberstein on Sunday morning following publication of his comments, saying that such remarks only harm the prime minister's political standing. "If Labor ministers are fired for keeping with the norms of good government - then the problem is Olmert's," associates of Barak said. "The threats of the prime minister's associates do not help him," Minister of Agriculture Shalom Simhon said, adding that a "politician who doesn't consider the possibility that people might vote against his government, should find another place of work." The Labor faction will meet on Monday to decide on whether to vote in favor of the bill. Education Minister Yuli Tamir said that she told Labor ministers in a meeting on Sunday morning that the party should give Kadima a deadline of Rosh Hashana to elect a new leader. She warned that if Labor were to leave the government now, the peace process would be harmed and an election would be held that would bring results not to Labor's liking.