Labor begins picking up pieces after Barak’s departure

Cabel unanimously elected new faction chairman; “If we have six months of industrial quiet, the messiah will come and the Labor party will blossom,” MK Braverman says.

Labor Rebels 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Labor Rebels 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The Labor Party’s executive committee will meet on Thursday night at Labor’s Kfar Saba headquarters to begin the process of rehabilitating the party following the departure of Defense Minister Ehud Barak and four political allies.
On the agenda will be how and when to elect a new Labor chairman, disband the party’s institutions and rewrite its constitution, amid infighting that does not seem to have an end in sight.
Labor’s eight remaining MKs convened at the Knesset on Wednesday for their first meeting since the split in the party. MK Eitan Cabel, who was unanimously elected to replace Shalom Simhon as faction chairman, sat in Barak’s old chair and conducted the meeting.
“If we have six months of industrial quiet, the messiah will come and the Labor party will blossom,” MK Avishay Braverman said at the start of the meeting.
The party’s elder statesman, MK Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, made a point of ruling himself out for the job of temporary Labor chairman that he actively sought two days before but later saw he had no majority to obtain.
“Forget about it,” Ben-Eliezer said.
“I’m not interested in the position.”
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 After several names were raised, the faction decided it preferred to run the party collectively, which will mean an increased role for Labor secretary-general Hilik Bar. In an effort to present an atmosphere of revival in the party, Bar invited reporters to the party’s headquarters to display 3,000 new membership forms he claimed to have received since Barak left the party on Monday.
The faction decided to propose its first motion of no-confidence in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government, which will be presented on Monday by MK Amir Peretz. On Sunday, the eight MKs intend to meet again for four hours to try to settle their differences.
The Petah Tikva District Court ruled on Wednesday that Labor must decide on its candidate to head the Jewish National Fund/Keren Kayemet LeYisrael at Thursday’s executive committee meeting. At press time, current JNF/KKL chairman Effi Stenzler was the only candidate.
But the coalition agreement signed between Likud and Barak’s new Independence faction says that Likud will work to ensure that the person who takes over the JNF/KKL chairmanship is a candidate from the Independence faction, so Stenzler could still face competition even if he is elected by Labor.