Min. Peretz: I'm Leaving the Government

Hatnua member, former defense minister says Netanyahu 'has brought the country to a state of despair.'

Ido Ben Porat, Gil Ronen,

Environment Minister Amir Peretz
Environment Minister Amir Peretz
Flash 90

Minister of Environmental Protection, Amir Peretz (Hatnua) announced Saturday evening that he does not intend to remain in the government of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

"Netanyahu has reached a point at which he does not prove his right to continue to be prime minister,” Peretz told Channel 2. "Netanyahu has brought the state of Israel to a state of despair.”

Peretz said that he does not intend to vote for the state budget Monday. “The ramifications of this are clear,” he added. “The tactical moves – how I will leave the government and when – I want to [coordinate] with Tzipi Livni.”

Peretz, who served as defense minister in the Second Lebanon War and was a member of the Labor party for most of his career, said that Netanyahu is held hostage by the extreme right wing. “He gives extremists legitimacy to continue to set the ground aflame,” Peretz charged. “When I heard the prime minister talking at the memorial ceremony for Rabin, I wanted to get up and leave. I stayed only out of respect for the event.”

Peretz said that he will remain in Hatnua and continue to back its leader, Livni.

Coalition Chairman MK Ze'ev Elkin (Likud) reacted to Peretz's announcement and said that Peretz is “well acquainted with the rules of the political game. If he does not want to be a member of the government, it is not difficult to obtain the fax number of the Prime Minister's Bureau, to send a letter of resignation.”

"I did not notice that Amir Peretz had a hard time looking the hungry people in the eyes during these last two years, starting from the moment in which he waged all-out war against his party-mate Amram Mitzna over the very right to enter the government headed by Netanyahu,” Elkin added acerbically. “I understand that Amir is currently concerned about his political survival to the next term and and he apparently is looking for his path in a different political framework, but the Israeli public is not stupid and it knows how to tell the difference between cheap populism and maneuvering for political survival, and a real ideological stance.”

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