Ehud Barak
Ehud Barak Israel news photo: Flash 90

Ehud Barak and four supporters are splitting the Labor party, forming a new faction and leaving Labor in shambles. He will remain Defense Minister.

Knesset Members Matan Vilnai, Shalom Simchon, Einat Wilf and Orit Noked are joining Barak in the move to a new party, which may be called ”Independence.”

Barak’s departure represents the second time that Labor has been severely weakened under his leadership. As Prime Minister in 2000, his 18-month-old government fell apart amid unprecedented concessions to then-Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat and his order for a sudden departure of Israeli troops from the ‘security zone” in southern Lebanon.

Knesset Member Eitan Cabel, one of Barak’s chief critics, said that Barak and his supporters “have decided to destroy the party.”

Barak reportedly informed the office of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu before leaking news of his dramatic move, which came amid growing in-fighting in the party.

Former Haaretz journalist and freshman MK Daniel Ben-Simon said last week he would quit Labor and form a new faction outside of the government coalition.