Labor Chairman Ehud Barak
said Thursday morning that his party will not recommend any candidate for the premiership to President Shimon Peres.
representatives, led by Knesset Member Chaim Oron, arrived at the president's residence with the announcement that they would also not recommend Kadima's Tzipi Livni or Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu. The HaBayit HaYehudi
(Jewish Home) party announced that they would tender their support for Netanyahu.
"The picture is complicated and worrisome when Yisrael Beiteinu
(Avigdor Lieberman's party)will be the one to crown a prime minister in Israel," said Barak Thursday morning in a Labor faction meeting in the party's headquarters in Tel Aviv just hours before his meeting at the president's residence.
Barak added, "At this time, we all have to lend our support to the building and rehabilitation of the Labor party. Whoever says we made mistakes is right. We need to address them with courage, determination, and persistence, and to make recruits for the rebuilding of Labor.
"However, whoever is eulogizing us is very wrong, making a bitter mistake. The Labor party has a magnificent tradition, a legacy and deep roots in performance. It has power in the present. Most significantly, we have the capability to bring the Labor party back to its worthy position in the center of the Israeli political map," he said.
"There should be no doubt in anyone's mind – I intend to lead the Labor party. The responsibility is on me and I intend to expend it. I am not deterred and I am not afraid. On the contrary, I intend to lead the way also on the ideological front, the political front, the organizational front, and on the financial front. I call everyone from this moment to enlist in Labor. It is an important challenge for all of us and for Israeli society. It is also a big hope," concluded Barak.
Amir Peretz, former defense minister, concurred with Barak's decision, saying, "Barak's decision not to recommend anyone to the president is correct."
The president met Thursday morning with representatives from Balad
and Yisrael Beiteinu. Later, Peres is slated to meet with Shas,
United Arab List-Ta'al,
and United Torah Judaism.
President Peres met Wednesday with Kadima and Likud.
Upon leaving the meeting, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz of Kadima said that his faction recommended that the task with putting together the coalition be charged to Livni.
"A government led by her will be able to unify all parts of the nation," he said. "This isn't just a technical step, but attentiveness to the will of the people."
Ronen Medzini contributed to this report