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Bibi Invites Barak into Coalition, Possibly Splitting Labor

Binyamin Netanyahu has invited the Labor party to join his coalition. Ehud Barak is considering the offer despite fierce opposition inside Labor.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 3/18/2009, 9:07 PM

Israel News Photo: file

Prime Minister-designate Binyamin (Bibi) Netanyahu has invited the Labor party to join his coalition, and Labor is seriously considering the offer, Labor Chairman Ehud Barak announced on Wednesday night.

"Most Israeli citizens and most Labor voters want to see the party play a role in leading the nation,” Barak said.

Senior Labor officials met with Barak in the Defense Ministry on Wednesday night. “In light of all the challenges we face... the good of the country requires Labor to seriously consider joining the government,” an official statement from Barak's office said afterwards.

Barak said his party's willingness to join the government would depend on Netanyahu's readiness to meet the party's coalition demands. Any plan to join the coalition will have to be voted on by the Labor party central committee, in a secret ballot. However, analysts said Barak could decide to join the Netanyahu government even against the will of the central committee. Such a move would likely split Labor into two factions.

Netanyahu explained his decision to court Labor as a coalition partner by saying that the party has many experienced politicians, and can contribute to the country in several areas of expertise. His offer to L
“Barak's continuing effort to crawl into a Bibi-Lieberman government is like the Labor party's death certificate,” said Tamir.
abor reportedly included five government portfolios.

Barak's announcement that he will consider the offer seriously angered some well-known figures on the political Left, including members of his own party. “Barak's continuing effort to crawl into a Bibi-Lieberman government is like the Labor party's death certificate,” said Labor member and Education Minister Yuli Tamir.

Labor MK Shelly Yechimovich said Netanyahu's government was sure to be the “worst government in the country's history,” and said Labor's values have nothing in common with those of Likud and coalition partner Yisrael Beiteinu.

Yariv Oppenheimer, the head of Peace Now and a member of the Labor party, described Barak as “a whale trying to kill itself on the beach and take the entire Labor party with him.” If Barak enters Netanyahu's government, he warned, “it will mean a complete divorce between the Labor party and the Israeli peace camp.”