Rumored jump to Meretz leads Pines-Barak meeting

Sources close to Paz-Pines confirm a meeting with Oron was held, but insist no decisions were made.

paz pines 248 88 aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
paz pines 248 88 aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Labor MK Ophir Paz-Pines met with party chairman Ehud Barak on Wednesday, following reports Paz-Pines plans to run with Meretz in February's national elections. Paz-Pines, 47, is chairman of the Knesset's Internal Affairs and Environment Committee and has been an MK since 1996. He reportedly met in recent days with Meretz chairman MK Haim Oron to examine possibly joining the party. Sources close to Paz-Pines confirmed on Wednesday that the meeting with Oron was held, but they strongly insisted that no decisions had been made. Other Paz-Pines associate said they thought such a decision would have a great impact on Labor, but also be decisive to the continuation of Paz-Pines's political career, because once he left Labor it would be almost impossible for him to go back. The meeting between Barak and Paz-Pines was held on Wednesday afternoon following a similar one the Labor chairman held on Tuesday night with the party's Minister-without-Portfolio Ami Ayalon, who is reportedly also considering leaving. Barak made it clear to Paz-Pines and Ayalon that they were highly important for the success of the party in the general elections and that he did not want to see them leave. Both Paz-Pines and Ayalon refused to comment on the issue, but their decision will be clear by Sunday, the final day to register for the December 2 Labor primary. Meanwhile, Channel 10 reported that Barak had commissioned a poll that showed Labor winning only nine Knesset seats and Meretz getting seven. Labor won 19 seats in the last general election in 2006. However, Barak's spokesman denied the existence of such a poll. On Friday morning a group of distinguished Israeli intellectuals - exactly who will attend is still being finalized - is scheduled to meet in Tel Aviv for the first time to examine ways to strengthen Meretz and especially Oron, and to examine how to influence the political map that will be created by February 10's election. Among those who will probably attend this initial meeting are former Labor politicians Uzi Baram, Avraham Burg and Shlomo Ben-Ami, authors Amos Oz and David Grossman, and well-known academics such as Prof. Ze'ev Sternhell. Group spokesman Nissim Duek said on Wednesday that its members would examine ways to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "If we don't succeed in reaching an agreement and deciding on two states for two nations as soon as possible, the Zionist vision will come to an end. We will have to face a reality in which we either become a minority in our own country or a minority that controls a majority of citizens who have no equal rights - and then we will become another South Africa," Duek said.