Labor Party Ministers Quit, Netanyahu Negotiating with Barak

Three Labor Party ministers resign from government; negotiations with Barak's faction begin.

Hillel Fendel, | updated: 14:52

In response to the splitting of the Labor Party and Ehud Barak's formation of the new "Independence" faction, the three remaining Labor Party cabinet ministers resigned their positions one after the other today.

First to announce his resignation was Welfare Minister Yitzchak Herzog, who declared that he would run for the party chairmanship. Next was Minister without Portfolio Avishai Braverman, who made the same offer. Rounding out the three was Minister of Industry and Trade Binyamin Ben-Eliezer - a former party leader who said he would not seek the position again but would not turn down filling it temporarily if the party so decided. Braverman had earlier called on Ben-Eliezer to take over the party helm for the meanwhile.

The other five Labor Party members remain undecided as to their political future. MK Eitan Cabel, who met with MKs Amir Peretz, Rhaleb Majadele and Daniel Ben-Simon today, said, "The situation is truly not simple, and we hopefully will make an important decision today or tomorrow, in a well thought-out manner."

All three resigning ministers sharply criticized Barak. "For a party leader to stealthily leave the party and form another in this way is simply not done," Ben-Eliezer said. Braverman called on the Independence members to "return" their mandates to Labor and quit the Knesset. 

In light of the catastrophic low which the historic Labor Party has reached - 8 MKs who are not certain to remain in the party - Israel National News presents this list of milestones in Labor history:

January 1968 – Labor was founded upon the merger of Mapai (Workers' Party of Eretz Yisrael), Labor Unity, and Rafi into one party. Mapai, under the leadership of David Ben-Gurion, had been Israel’s governing party throughout the country’s 20 years of existence, after having controlled the Jewish community in the Land of Israel even beforehand via the Jewish Agency and Haganah.

January 1969 – Labor allies itself with a far left party, Mapam (United Workers Party), and the alliance is called the Alignment (Ma'arach).

October 1969 – The Alignment, headed by Golda Meir, wins the elections with 56 Knesset seats.

December 1973 – Three months after the Yom Kippur War, the Alignment wins the public’s support for the last time in 20 years, and Yitzchak Rabin becomes Prime Minister.

May 1977 – After Rabin resigns in wake of the “dollars in U.S.” scandal, the Alignment heads the opposition for the first time when the Likud headed by Menachem Begin wins the election with 43 Knesset seats.

July 1984 – Two elections later, the Alignment headed by Shimon Peres wins more seats than the Likud but fails to form a government. Instead, it agrees to a rotation government; Yitzchak Shamir of Likud is Prime Minister until 1986, and Peres follows until 1988, when the Likud wins again.

June 1992 – Rabin becomes Prime Minister after trouncing first Shimon Peres for Labor leadership and then the Likud in the national election, and announces, “I will navigate, I will lead.”

September 1993 - Leading possibly the most left-wing government in Israel’s history, Rabin signs the Oslo Accords.

November 1995 – Yitzchak Rabin is assassinated, Shimon Peres takes over.

May 1996 – Peres-led Labor loses election to Netanyahu’s Likud.

May 1999 – Ehud Barak takes over leadership of Labor, re-names it One Israel, and wins election with 26 Knesset seats – the smallest ever for a victorious party.

January 2003 – Labor drops to 19 seats, half of the amount won by the Likud.

February 2009 – Labor continues its downward slide, dropping to 13 seats.

January 2011 – Ehud Barak and 4 MKs quit party, leaving Labor with its lowest Knesset membership ever – 8. Unclear whether all of them will remain in Labor.