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Monday, January 17, 2011

Labor party splits

Ehud Barak and four other MK's from the Labor party have split off to form their own faction in the Knesset. The faction is called Atzmaut (Independence).
Barak said that the faction's agenda will be "first of all the state, then the party, then the media, and only then ourselves." He vowed that he and Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilani, Agricultural Minister Shalom Simhon, Deputy Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor Orit Noked, and MK Einat Wilf would "do what's best and what's right for Israel."

"We are creating a new faction and we will call on everyone who believes in our path to join."

"We are leaving for a new path. We are leaving a home and people we love," Barak continued.

"It wasn't always healthy and good for Labor. We noticed a shift towards the Left and post-Zionism," Barak said.

"This isn't easy for me. [former prime minister Ariel] Sharon, [former prime minister David] Ben-Gurion, [President Shimon] Peres did it. I didn't think I would have to do it, but we are doing it. We are going to a new path," Barak explained.

Einat Wilf explained that the two parties ideologically cannot sit together anymore. "One party wants to be close to Meretz and one, that in the tradition of Mapai, sees itself as pragmatic.This party believes that threats to leave the coalition harm the diplomatic process," she said.

"We believe the best way to advance the process is with the current government. It's important that there be a leftist social party in Israel but it wasn't right for us," Wilf continued.
Later today, three cabinet ministers who are staying in the Labor party resigned from the cabinet (and the coalition): Industry and Trade Minister Fouad Ben Eliezer, Welfare Minister Yitzchak Herzog and Minister of Minorities Avishai Braverman. Earlier in the week, a fourth Labor MK, Daniel Ben Simon, had sought to leave the party and set up his own faction as a means of leaving the coalition.

You might think that Prime Minister Netanyahu would be upset about his shrinking coalition. You'd be wrong.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was aware of the move and encouraged it, and his associates at the Prime Minister's Office even helped Barak plan it. Labor's senior ministers - Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, Isaac Herzog and Avishay Braverman - were surprised by the announcement.

"The split will create an island of stability, a small and consolidated group within the coalition," said a source close to Netanyahu.

According to estimates, Barak decided to split the party in order to avoid having to quit the coalition.
Netanyahu ends up with a coalition of 66 out of 120 (actually comparatively good by Israeli standards) and he no longer is under the threat of a large party quitting the government over lack of progress in the 'peace process.' The flip side is that if either Yisrael Beiteinu or Shas were to quit, Netanyahu would no longer have a majority.

What could go wrong?

And for those of you wondering what the difference between Atzmaut and Kadima is, the answer is that Kadima is stuck with Tzipi Livni and her enormous ego, and Atzmaut has Ehud Barak and his.

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At 6:28 PM, Blogger The Caped Crusader said...

Livni and Barak, talk about being between a snake-ish and a slimy place...!

I've been watching Ehud Barak for some time now (although only in measured doses). It seems that with his attempts to repeat history and oust Bibi with the help of Obama, he's changing tac (since Obama's lost interest in the peace process, thanks to Bibi calling Obama's 'bluff' by accepting anything Obama asked to be put on the negotiating table).

Ehud Barak's performance with Gabi Ashkenazi, is enough in itself to show Barak puts his own interests above those of the nation.

It just remains to be seen what he'll be up to next...

At 8:48 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Ehud Barak was always the least extreme of the Labor Party leaders and close to the Rabin faction. He's had to play to the Hard Left since he got the Labor Party chairmanship in 2007. He had no real future in Labor so its not surprising he bolted. Labor today is more a clone of Meretz and has little appeal to the average Israeli. This is no longer the party of the Mapai days but a shadow of its former self.

Its good news for Israel.

At 10:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

but what happens to Atzmut in the inevitable next Knesset elections? Can these guys collect enough votes to be reseated?

At 10:16 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Sparky, I doubt it. They'll have better luck if they can secure a position in the Likud. I think what's left of the Labor faction in the Knesset will disintegrate. Those on its left will join Meretz and the rest will go into Kadima.


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