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Barak, Netanyahu Photo: Dudu Azoulay
Barak, Netanyahu Photo: Dudu Azoulay
 
 

Barak chooses Bibi

Labor party chairman knows he can either join Netanyahu’s coalition or go home

Sima Kadmon
Published: 03.19.09, 12:09 / Israel Opinion

Nothing should surprise us about the conduct of the Labor party chairman, and if you ask him he will aim to prove that everything was there from the start: He never said that the Labor party is going to the opposition, but rather, that “it won’t be deterred by the opposition,” and if someone fails to understand the difference, Barak will be glad to explain it in detail.

 

Yet what’s the point of explanations: Barak knew he will be the defense minister in the Netanyahu government even before Netanyahu knew he has a government.

 

Because even Barak can make these simple political calculations: Either he becomes a minister in the Netanyahu government, or he goes home. Anyone who thought we will get to see the former prime minister sitting on the back benches of the Livni-led opposition better think again.

 

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So it is no wonder that the labor party is reaching boiling point: For weeks they have been walking around with the feeling that their party head is finalizing deals behind their backs, while he kept denying it. Even on Wednesday, when Netanyahu itself publically admitted to this relationship, Barak, just like a man whose wife catches him in bed with another woman, continued to deny.

 

However, the reward is already on the table, for all to see: Five ministers, including only one without a portfolio, two deputy ministers, and a Knesset committee head. You can’t say Netanyahu doesn’t know how to be generous when he wants to be. And now, let’s see senior Labor party figures Ben-Eliezer, Simhon, Vilnai, and Herzog refuse such offer.

 

Netanyahu’s gains

It is clear what Barak gains from this partnership. Meanwhile, Netanyahu gains the only person he really wanted next to him – Barak. He gains the opportunity to get rid of National Union. He gains a coalition that isn’t much bigger, but is one he will not be ashamed to present in the world. He gains allies he does not fear.

 

On the other hand, he also gains a much smaller opposition: Kadima, without Labor, goes from being a 55-member opposition to being a 42-member opposition.

 

Actually, this is not quite so. Should Barak succeed in his mission, Netanyahu will receive a 13-member partner on paper only. Almost half the Labor faction will be against him on a regular basis, assuming the party won’t split. These people already started to prepare for the world war expected to take place this coming Tuesday at the party committee.

 

Members of the Central Committee will be called upon to decide whether the party will adopt Barak’s way and join the Netanyahu government, or whether to take the opposition way, which is being led, among others, by party veterans as well as its young guard. Barak’s rivals are already collecting signatures in order to make the vote secret.

 

Barak will face the fight of his life, his rivals said Wednesday. In addition to his proposal, two more proposals will be submitted for a vote: The young guard will call for his dismissal, and the other one will demand a new primaries date. Paradoxically, Barak’s rivals say, he will end up losing if he wins. If he manages to bring Labor into the government, we will make sure this will mark his demise.

 

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